Liquor Control Board statement on the lawsuit filed by I-1183 authors and financiers

For Immediate Release                                                                                                  June 22, 2012

OLYMPIA -- The Liquor Control Board (Board) is reviewing the lawsuit filed against it by the plaintiffs: Costco, NW Grocery Associations and the Washington Restaurant Association. The plaintiffs were key authors and the primary financial supporters of Initiative 1183.

The plaintiffs’ media message is one-sided and inaccurate.

The Board is confident in the rules drafted to implement I-1183. The Board’s rulemaking was based on its own interpretation, with advice and counsel of its assigned Sr. Assistant Attorney General. It was fully vetted as the soundest legal interpretation.

The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit itself that the Board made the rules this way because it didn’t like Initiative 1183 or that the Board’s rules make the cost of liquor so high. This is not true.

As a public agency, the Board was neutral throughout the campaign and implementation, and successfully defended the initiative in the Supreme Court against a constitutional challenge. The truth is that the price of liquor is higher because of 10 percent fees at distribution and 17 percent at retail that the plaintiffs themselves drafted and voters approved in 2011. The taxes are the exact same spirits and liter taxes customers have paid for many years. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) fact sheet on liquor prices is available on the Board website.

The Board rule-making process was open, transparent and extended over several months. The Board and staff took extraordinary steps in order to be inclusive of all impacted parties, including the plaintiffs.

Unfortunately, there are many different financial relationships that are impacted by I-1183. What benefits one entity is likely to negatively impact others.

More information about Initiative 1183 as well as an audio clip of the February 22, 2012, public hearing is available on the LCB website at


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