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State about to take bids to lease liquor distribution system
Posted by Andrew Garber
The state expects to start accepting competitive bids by the beginning of next week to potentially lease the state liquor warehouse and wholesale distribution system.
The Legislature approved the process earlier this year to see if more money could be made by leasing the state-owned distribution system to a private company to operate. The state would retain control over retail liquor stores.
The state Office of Financial Management, which oversees the effort, met with a legislative advisory panel on Tuesday to fine tune what information the state wants companies to provide in the bids.
"This should be a simple thing to do," Sen. Joe Zarelli, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, told OFM. "What we really want to do is hear from people about whether they have a better idea in doing what the state is currently doing."
Specifically, bidding companies will need to prove they can make money "doing more or being more efficient," said Marty Brown, the head of OFM.
They won't get extra credit for doing things the state could already do on its own, he said. Nor can they expect any changes that require approval by the Legislature or the Liquor Control Board.
State officials noted that if voters approve the liquor privatization initiative, I-1183, in November, this whole effort likely becomes moot.
I-1183 would require the state to close state liquor stores and sell their assets, including the liquor-distribution center. It would allow private stores to sell liquor and create licensing fees for sale and distribution of liquor based on sales revenue. Costco is the main backer.
"From any practical point of view, if the initiative passes this thing doesn't go on," House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said.
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