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Will I-1100 and I-1105 Cause The Number Of Stores Selling Liquor To Explode?

Opponents of both liquor initiatives (I-1100 and I-1105) claim that the measures would negatively impact local communities by making liquor more available because there will be significantly more stores selling hard alcohol than there is today. The claim is potentially true.

Washington political blog PubliCola opposes both liquor privatization initiatives, citing analysis from the Washington State Auditor (emphasis added):

the number of retail stores selling hard liquor could grow to more than 3,300 under either scheme, with hard liquor available between 6 am and 2 am.

The Seattle Times, in their recurring Truth Needle series, also cited the auditor’s office and added:

If everyone who could sell liquor under 1100 decided to do it, the number would top 5,000… At the high end, the state of Washington would have one store for every 1,236 residents — 2.25 times more than California, making the campaign’s full statement true. California has 13,321 stores selling liquor, one for every 2,775 residents.

Although the number of stores selling liquor in Washington State will probably increase if either I-1100 or I-1105 pass, it is impossible to know by how many or what that impact might look like. The only known facts are these:

  • If either initiative passes, voters will have put the state out of the retail liquor business.
  • Under Initiative 1100, the cost of a license to sell liquor would be $1,000.
  • Under Initiative 1105, spirits distributor licenses would become available on October 1, 2011, and retail liquor licenses would become available on November 1, 2011.

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