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Interpretation of new liquor law confusing to bars, restaurants

The same people who sponsored Initiative 1183 to privatize liquor stores aren't happy with how things are turning out. (AP photo)

The Washington Restaurant Association is not happy with how the Liquor Control Board is interpreting Initiative 1183, the voter approved plan to get the state out of the business of selling booze.

The association's Bruce Beckett was the lead sponsor of the initiative. He says the liquor board wants to limit how much alcohol bars and restaurants are allowed to buy from the new private retailers. The cap proposed is 24 liters per day unless they go straight to a distributor.

"I have no idea how you would possibly enforce this kind of rule. I mean, what's to prevent someone from going out to the parking lot, putting the order in their car, and going across the street to another store," says Beckett.

He says it is bad for restaurants and bad for the new liquor stores.

Brian Smith, spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, notes the 24 liter limit was included in the language of the initiative. The board's job is simply to interpret that portion of the plan.

Beckett argues they never meant for the limit to apply to an entire day, only to a single purchase. Smith says they have to interpret the initiative as written and can not go by what the authors meant to say.

The Liquor Control Board will be taking a final vote on the new rules next Wednesday. Smith says he does not expect the limit for restaurants and bars to be changed.

Initiative 1183 goes into effect June 1.

About the Author


Kim Shepard is a news anchor and reporter for KIRO Radio and the office optimist. She's energetic, quick to laugh and has a positive outlook on life.

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