Costco exec thinks liquor-store privatization measure will qualify for ballot
Costco collects what it believes is enough signatures to put the liquor-store-privatization effort on November's ballot.
Seattle Times business reporter
A state initiative to open up liquor sales appears to have passed a major hurdle.
Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale, which supports Initiative 1100, said it helped collect what it believes is enough signatures to put the liquor-store-privatization effort on November's ballot after setting up tables at 26 warehouses throughout Washington state.
Costco took down the tables this past Sunday, ending the petition drive in 16 days, said Chief Executive Jim Sinegal.
"We're done," he said Thursday. "We think we have an adequate number of signatures."
To make the November ballot, Initiative 1100 needs nearly 242,000 verified signatures by July 2. Sinegal did not say how many signatures Costco collected.
Sharon Gilpin, a political consultant who put together the initiative, said she hopes to collect as many as 300,000 signatures to ensure a "cushion."
"We still have petitions out on the street, and we'll do a final count this weekend," Gilpin said. "It's looking great."
Initiative 1100 would allow businesses that currently sell beer and wine to also sell liquor, taking the state out of the liquor-store business. It also would eliminate price controls and allow volume discounts.
Opponents of the measure say price controls and other regulations minimize alcohol abuse and related problems such as domestic violence.
The push comes more than two years after Costco lost most aspects of a court battle to change the state's beer- and wine-distribution rules. Between May 27 and June 9, the company contributed $535,000 to a group called Modernize Washington, which filed Initiative 1100.
Costco's swift signature-collection effort is a sign "the electorate agree that liquor sales should be privatized," Sinegal said. "It's a validation of our position and their trust in Costco."
Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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