Thursday, October 21, 2010

WA State Initiatives 1100 and 1105.

Purple Teeth Cellars tends to stay out of the political fray. We tend to promote causes that encourage people to drink more red wine because it's good for you and stuff like that. But over the past year, a couple of issues have arisen that have caused us to be more vocal on the political side. And some of our friends have asked us where we stand on some of the recent distribution issues pertaining to alcohol.

We believe in free choice when it comes to purchasing alcohol. Simple. What that means is that we believe that everyone (over the legal drinking age) should have the right to purchase whatever they want and where they want. That means that consumer choice should dictate what is in your local stores or what you are able to receive at your home.

In WA state, 2 initiatives have been put forth to essentially put the state out of the liquor business. Yes, the state of WA not only regulates liquor sales with taxes, licensing, etc., but they are also the only folks allowed to sell liquor. This means that THEY control what we are able to purchase on our shelves. If we like a particular beverage – let's take the lovely Nocello, we have to hope that the state has deemed it worthy enough to carry that beverage in their stores. If liquor sales were controlled by private retailers, then consumer demand would dictate what is on the shelves, and hence what is available for us to purchase.

I know a few of you have asked about how we voted and what the difference is between the 2 initiatives. Per the site –, here are the 2 initiatives:

Initiative 1100 - liquor (beer, wine and spirits)

  • This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores; terminate contracts with private stores selling liquor; and authorize the state to issue licenses that allow spirits (hard liquor) to be sold, distributed, and imported by private parties.
  • It would repeal uniform pricing and certain other requirements governing business operations for distributors and producers of beer and wine.
  • Stores that held contracts to sell spirits could convert to liquor retailer licenses.

WHAT THIS MEANS IN REALITY: The state stops selling liquor. Places like Costco, Safeway, QFC, etc. are now able to negotiate better pricing because they are able to sell liquor, as opposed to the state not negotiating any favorable pricing for consumers. Purple Teeth Cellars supports this initiative and voted 'yes'.

Initiative 1105 - liquor (beer, wine and spirits)

  • This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores and to license qualified private parties as spirits (hard liquor) retailers or distributors.
  • It would require licensees to pay the state a percentage of their first five years of gross spirits sales; repeal certain taxes on retail spirits sales; direct the board to recommend to the legislature a tax to be paid by spirits distributors; and revise other laws concerning spirits.

WHAT THIS MEANS IN REALITY: It is SIMILAR, but different than 1100. The distributors still have their monopoly and are able to still act as the middleman to the consumer by selling to Costco, Safeway, QFC, etc. So while it may be a step in the right direction by taking the state out of the liquor business, it does NOT remove the monopoly of the distributors. Purple Teeth Cellars does not support this initiative and voted 'no'.

Note that there have been a few red herrings thrown out there as to why WA State should remain in the liquor business. One of those arguments is very similar to one used for another piece of legislation that Purple Teeth Cellars hates – HR5034. People who want to restrict choice use the excuse that it will promote underage drinking. Yeah, ok. These supermarkets have too much money at stake to lose their license to sell alcohol if they let underage people buy booze. Plain and simple. It's one of those "you win the battle (making the quickie sale to the 18-year old) and lose the war (ability to take in millions of dollars in revenue because you lost your license" situations.

The reality is that this focus on restricting choice is "all about the Benjamins", and not about looking out for public safety. Did you know that six (6) companies control distribution of over half the wine and spirits in the entire country, and want to keep it like that! Yep, you read that right – six companies control 50% of the wine distribution in the US. We have blogged about HR 5034 here and found out that the NY Times recently published an article about the absurdity of it here.

Purple Teeth Cellars has always maintained that if you do not want to purchase our wine because you are not a red wine fan or the price does not work for, that's fine. At least you are making a choice. But when you cannot make the choice to either buy or to not buy our wine, that is where we have a problem.

And with that, Mr. PurpleTeeth and I are off to take care of some very important PTC business. Stay tuned. And whatever you do, if you have the right to vote, please exercise your right and submit your ballot on time!

Thanks for taking the time to solicit our opinion.

posted by Jill B. @ 12:32 PM        0 Comments


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