Oregon Watches Washington Liquor Transition

May 30, 2012

The state of Washington is preparing for a seismic shift this week in the way people buy liquor. A similar transition from state-controlled alcohol sales is not yet on the horizon in Oregon. But some in the industry hope that will change.

Washington voters initially rejected the idea of turning control of hard liquor sales over to the private sector. But last fall, an initiative to do just that passed by a wide margin after an expensive advertising campaign by Costco.

The retail giant isn't planning a similar ballot run in Oregon this year. Instead, grocery industry lobbyist Joe Gilliam says retailers will try their hand at convincing the Oregon legislature first. And he says the industry will simply point north for an example of what happens when lawmakers don't compromise.

"What you saw in Washington was the culmination of 30 years of the legislature and the Liquor Control Board up there just saying not only no, but 'hell no. This is our game, this is our money,'" Gilliam says. "And it finally just blew up in their face."

A spokeswoman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says the agency is cautious about expanding the number of places you can buy hard liquor in the state.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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