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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.

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