Alcohol Deregulation Initiatives Rejected by Citizens of Washington State

It appears that Costco Corporation’s third bite at the apple in their attempt to deregulate the alcohol market in Washington State has reached the same conclusion as its first two attempts. Following failed attempts in the courtroom and the legislature in recent years, this year Costco spent millions of dollars to get an initiative on the ballot that would have privatized liquor sales in the state while also stripping the state of virtually all pricing and chain of custody laws pertaining to alcohol.

While the final margins are still being determined, the Associate Press and multiple news outlets across Washington State have reported that Initiative 1100 has been rejected by the voters in Washington. As of Wednesday evening, roughly 52.5% of the voters rejected the initiative compared to 47.5% who supported it (here).  Additionally, a related ballot initiative which would have also privatized the state system but kept three tier related laws, I-1105, was defeated by an even greater margin, with more than 63% of voters rejecting it.

A wide-ranging coalition of organizations did a fantastic job of orchestrating the No Campaign against I-1000 and I-1105. Nurses, firefighters, law enforcement, substance abuse and public health professionals, organized labor, beer and wine distributors, craft distillers, large and small brewers and wineries and religious leaders are just some of the many groups who joined together to achieve this important victory for Washington state citizens.

Congratulations to all of those who helped run this important campaign. Hopefully this resounding rejection of tearing down an established, effective system that has served producers, retailers,  and consumers well will give pause to others seeking to deregulate alcohol through privatization or other creative measures.

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