Divided Washington Supreme Court Upholds Liquor Privatization

May 31, 2012

Private liquor sales start Friday in Washington. On the eve of the changeover, the state Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved ballot measure to end the state's liquor monopoly.

The justices on the Washington Supreme Court reached a speedy decision on a challenge to the liquor privatization push. But the ruling was a close one. Five members of the high court upheld the voter-approved ballot measure, while four dissented.

At issue was whether the ballot measure violates the single subject rule. The liquor initiative includes provisions to privatize sales, raise the tax on spirits and earmark some revenues for public safety.

The dissenters said that smacked of legislative logrolling. But the court majority ruled the various pieces are closely related and have a rational coherence.

The decision by the high court avoids a potential mess on the eve of the changeover. Numerous state liquor stores have already closed. Major grocery chains have their introductory sales all set to go.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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