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Washington liquor privatization could impact Idaho state liquor sales

With Washington gearing up to privatize its liquor sales by June, Idaho state officials are worried about losing sales at their state-run liquor stores along the Washington-Idaho border; already, they've tabled plans for new state liquor stores in Oldtown and Post Falls. “I think we will continue to remain competitive,” said Idaho State Liquor Division Director Jeff Anderson, “but we really don't know.” Last year, Idaho's liquor division distributed $50 million in profits to the state's general fund, cities, counties and courts.

For now, Anderson said, Idaho won't add any new stores, and will instead try to “get more out of the stores we have.” At least 13 of Idaho's state liquor stores are within 15 miles of the Idaho-Washington border, according to researchers at the state's Office of Performance Evaluations, which has been raising something of an alarm about the pending change. “They account for 23 percent of the sales in the state,” researcher Jared Tatro told Idaho lawmakers this week, “$34 million in sales, $13 million in profits last year alone.” If sales at those stores drop by just 10 percent next year, Idaho could lose $3.3 million in profits, he warned.

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, said, “I've been told that the Post Falls stores sell more than anyplace in the state, and I'm sure it's because of the sales to Washingtonians.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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