Friday, June 18, 2010

How Initiative 1100 Helps Consumers

• The State of Washington should not be in the liquor sales business – it’s the only consumer product the state sells. Passage of I-1100 will provide wineries with a free and fair market for wine in Washington State for the first time in history.

• I-1000 would allow consumers to make decisions regarding the spirits, beer and wine they buy instead of state bureaucrats. It would repeal blue laws which remain on the books only as a throwback to a century ago when prohibition was the order of the day: we have gone way beyond that as a population.

• We would have better wines at lower prices – with private businesses able to offer bargains for larger orders. There are only 18 states remaining that have liquor controlled by their states – 32 have privatized sales of liquor.

• Currently there is a three- tiered system of liquor in Washington; the people who make the wine must be separated from the customer at the retail level by an additional middle man who is the distributor. These large distributors have built a legal system based on their own economic self interest rather than the interests of consumers. This initiative would take out that mandatory middle man and remove the complex restrictions on the way wineries sell wine that are contained in the current special interest driven liquor code, allowing the industry to move forward under a more open and fair system.

• I-1100 does not reduce state liquor taxes; the state will not lose money under I-1100, in fact it will reduce expenditures by the state at a time when the state budget is strapped.

• I-1100 does not change the public safety provisions of the liquor code at all. The state will still control all the public safety aspects of liquor, something that all of us agree is of utmost importance.

• Wineries are restricted in hundreds of ways that interfere with the marketing of wine – from limitations on advertising and promotion of wine; to bans on volume discounts and extension of credit to their wholesale customers (distributors are exempted from this ban). These restrictions are so broad that they prevent things as simple as re-filling recycled containers and printing wine lists for restaurants. The current regulations prohibit many business practices that are perfectly legal for other products and have nothing to do with public safety.

• For years family wineries have been working with the state legislature and the Washington Liquor Control Board to change these laws. To date the progress has been frustrating and time-consuming with little real change; we are still living with Prohibition-era mentality where protectionism rules and the free market do not apply. People may tell you that Initiative 1100 will hurt the protections built into the law for smaller wineries and breweries, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our small wineries will flourish when they can finally put their creativity, marketing and consumer relationships to work directly with the people who are doing the buying.

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