Friday, April 8, 2011

Screwing the Voters

The retail liquor businesses and wholesale distributors have tried several times over the last 10 years to get voter referendums passed to privatize the distribution and sale of hard liquor in the state (Washington). To date they can only distribute and sale beer, wine and similar alcoholic beverages. The state runs the sale of all hard liquor through state-owned or state contracted stores.

Last November voters rejected two referendums, one brought by retailers, sponsored by Costco (like Duh), and one sponsored by distributors. Both took the state out of the liquor business in exchange for a tax on sales and pushed enforcement on to law enforcement agencies, who are already stretched and stressed under the recession.

With easier access to hard liquor, available anywhere other liquor is sold, law enforcement will have more problems and we'll have more alcohol related automobile accidents, domestic violence and other crimes. Hard liquor will be available 24/7 almost anywhere other liquor is sold, even gas stations. This is why voters have consistently rejected it.

Now with the state looking at a $5 billion shortfall, and cutting all sorts of social services while maintaining tax exemptions and breaks for businesses, the liquor distribution industry sees a windfall by offering the state a $300 million one-time, up front purchase of the state's liquor distribution and retail business.

In short what they couldn't do with voter referendums, they'll pay off state legislators to pass the law in the two-year budget. It's a sham and a shame on the people of the state. It's screwing the voters of their vote and it would take another voter referendum to undo what would already be done.

The state legislature is screwing the voters of the state in the name of short term profit while the retailers and distributors will reap billions down the road. They know this and the state is caving to their interest than the voters who said no. We elected the legislators but apparently votes don't count and money does.

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