The very first initiative ever passed by Washington voters, back in 1914 when the state was just a pup, was Prohibition. And ever since, liquor and its sales and regulation has been a regular topic for initiatives, including two dueling liquor privatization measures now circulating for signatures (I-1100 and I-1105).
Photograph courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives
An Elections Division compilation covering most of statehood showed 58 booze-related initiatives. Measures dealing with DUIs and alcohol servers also were filed in 2004 and 2008, respectively. We ended the Sunday “blue laws” and approved liquor-by-the-drink via initiative, but never overturned the state liquor monopoly. The Legislature has grappled with many of the same sensitive issues, including abolition of the state-run liquor stores, lowering the drinking age and so forth.
This year, business and industry groups, are sponsoring measures with different approaches to allowing the private sector to sell hard liquor. Both organizations got a late start collecting signatures, waiting until after the conclusion of this year’s legislative session. The deadline for turning in roughly 300,000 voter signatures (241,153 bare minimum, plus a pad for invalid and duplicate signatures) is less than three weeks away — July 2. Both groups are well-financed and express optimism about qualifying for the ballot. Text of all initiatives is available online.