Limiting distributors keeps liquor prices high

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It's been six month since Initiative 1183 was passed by the people of Washington state. I feel it's time someone told the public the truth about what really happened, and why the citizens of our state are paying more for liquor.

Currently there are only three distributors selling liquor in Washington. Those three do not sell the same brands of liquor. I believe some arrangement was made that they would not compete against each other. Therefore when I have to buy a product for my restaurant I have only one choice for distributor. If he doesn't carry the liquor, I must call the other company. (The third distributor is located beyond our county).

When a new law is passed it is up to the governing agency to interpret the law and then make changes it sees fit. The Washington State Liquor Board chose to limit the number of distributors

State and federal taxes did not change. Manufacturer's bottle cost did not change, and distributor margins did not change.

These unscrupulous distributors merely pulled the taxes out of the price of a bottle of liquor and made them visible to the buying public as if the state was increasing taxes, then merely raised the price of every single bottle of liquor so as to be able to pay the state $150 million by March 31, 2013. If they do not raise this amount by that date their 10 percent licensee fee will cost more.

Anybody finding it hard to sit down at this point?

Currently the Washington Restaurant Association, The Washington Grocery Association and Costco are jointly suing the WSLCB to make changes.

If you are wondering what happened to the local liquor store, imagine this: They purchased the right to operate at the Ninth Avenue location, not realizing they had to buy their liquor from the same person every other restaurant and grocery store did.

I think they paid over $100,000 and they closed their doors within 60 days.

Should you find this travesty interesting I will be posting more information on the Mill Creek Brewpub Facebook page. Our elected officials really let their constituents down on this one!

Gary Johnson

Walla Walla

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