If you've ever lived in, say, California, and been able to run to the corner store for, say, a bottle of Old Throwup, then you might also say this is a good idea: Two state senators are proposing to scrap the state-run liquor store system by 2012 and let the free market go at it.
Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) and Curtis King (R-Yakima) have already introduced a bill to end the state's archaic monopoly in favor of privatization, says the Washington Policy Center's Jason Mercier. It will be taken up at the forthcoming 2010 legislative session.
As Mercier points out, liquor-sales reform is a perennial discussion in Olympia. But, he writes, "the current budget climate may give it added relevance and opportunity for success." The state would still get a cut, but so would private businesses - and prices just might drop. Here's the proposal:
"(1) The legislature intends for privatization of retail and distribution of liquor to result in a system that is more efficient than public sector retail and distribution. The legislature finds that the present system of state control includes a markup amount at distribution that generates revenue for the state and local governments, and that this markup will be eliminated when liquor sales and distribution are privatized. The legislature further intends that the privatization of liquor sales and distribution not result in revenue losses to state or local governments as compared to projected revenues assumed under state control, not including any separate licenses or franchises.
(2) Therefore, the legislature directs the liquor control board and the department of revenue, with assistance from legislative staff and the office of financial management, to present a report to the legislature no later than December 1, 2010, on a recommended method and rates of liquor taxation that would generate the same future projected revenue for the state and local jurisdictions as under the current state control system. The report may also include recommendations on tax enforcement and simplification to the current system of liquor taxation and distribution of revenues." (Sec 101)
"By July 1, 2012, the board must close all state liquor stores and state liquor distribution facilities, and must sell at auction all assets pertaining to the state sale and distribution of liquor. Funds received from these auctions shall be deposited in the state general fund." (Sec 215)