Monday, October 18, 2010

Initiatives 1100 and 1105 story

Many people are still unsure about the alcohol initiatives.

A wide spectrum of opinions suggests that the state is still generally undecided about Initiatives 1100 and 1105.

While these two initiatives seem similar, much of the voter confusion can be attributed to their differences.

I-1100 would mean the closing of state liquor stores, and less power given to the Liquor Control Board to tax and regulate licensing, according to the 2010 General Election Voter’s Guide. Also under this initiative, any “general liquor retailer’s license” would allow the sale of wine, beer and hard alcohol, eliminating the middleman distributor.

I-1105 would change the Liquor Control Board’s powers as well, but keeping the middleman distributor. They would issue a “spirits distributor license” allowing a sale to anyone holding that license, according to the voter’s guide.

Naturally the main appealing factor of I-1100 to Washington State students in the small town of Pullman is the drop in cost for consumers, because of the removal of the high tax.

“I think that it should be passed because it would lower the taxes on alcohol making it much cheaper,” said Lauren Reed, Junior Biology Major.

The state marks up hard liquor by 51 percent in addition to imposing the highest liquor taxes in the nation, according to Craig Groshart from the Bellevue Reporter.

“WSU students would care because we’re all going to school paying a lot of money so having alcohol available to people over 21 would be cheaper and more accessible,” said Reed, although admitted she was not sure if this would be totally positive.

Even within the wine industry, potentially greatly affected by these initiatives, there are differences in opinion.

“There are two kinds of producer; medium-to-large, and small-to-medium,” said Roger Gamache, of Gamache Vintners. “Small wineries feel they may get gobbled up, but it may be good for the big guys, depending on if you are open to the competition.”

Competition would result from the initiative removing state restrictions that prevented discounted prices, negotiated payment schedules and so forth according to Mike Veseth from the Wine Economist.

“We ‘self distribute’ in Washington state and being forced to go through a wholesaler would be very detrimental too us,” said Cathy Betz of Betz Family Winery. “We would lose control on where our wines are sold.  We also appreciate the safeguards that 1100 would remove.”

More than anything, it’s the overall confusion of the initiatives that is the problem says Gamache.

“I’m not a big initiative fan, it is all about the big guy trying to get bigger, generally this means the amount of producers will get smaller, said Gamache. ““I think these initiatives are poorly written, they are confusing and they cross over each other.”

Although relatively new to the wine industry, Washington State it is now the second largest wine producer in the nation, according to the Washington Wine commission. It is amongst a minority of states with state controlled liquor sales.


Lauren Reed (in-person interview): 509-860-7362
Roger Gamache: 509-539-0295
Cathy Betz: 425-861-9823

“Washington Wine.” Washington Wine Commission.

“I-1100 and I-1105.” 2010 General Election Voters’ guide.

Craig Groshart.“Liquor initiatives: 'Yes' on I-1100, 'No' on I-1105” Bellevue Reporter. 4.Oct. 2010.

Mike Veseth. “Economic effects of alcohol initiatives.” The Wine Economist. 12 Oct. 2010.


I. Explanation of both initiatives
      - Differences between I-1100 and I-1105
      - Student perspective
II. Different impact on small and large wineries
      - Costco’s influence
      - Small wineries perspective
III. Confusion of initiatives
      - Winery’s frustration with initiative
      - Biggest problem

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