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The Supreme Court barely approves state's new liquor privatization law (with links)

So you may have heard the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Thursday (May 31) in a 5 to 4 opinion, that the privatization of liquor sales was legal.

Read the key opinion at this link. There is of course a dissenting view, which can be read here.

The dissent, authored by Justice Stephen Warning, includes this summary:

   An initiative can impose new taxes, but the ballot title cannot misleadingly imply that it does not.  Likewise, earmarking a portion of the new tax revenue for public safety is not inherently problematic, but  (the Constitution's) article II, section 19 precludes combining a substantive liquor privatization law with an earmark that has no rational relation to liquor privatization and may have been included only  to win votes.   We respectfully dissent.

Here's the majority opinion summary of the changes that I-1183 makes in the distribution of revenue for local governments, as well as the small changes pertaining to advertising:

The initiative additionally secures the current distribution of liquor revenues to local governments and dedicate[s] a portion of the new revenues raised from liquor license fees to increase funding for local public safety programs, including police, fire, and emergency services in communities throughout the state.  The additional portion is "$10 million per year from the spirits license fees [to] be provided to border areas, counties, cities, and towns through the liquor revolving fund for the purpose of enhancing public safety programs."   

       I-1183 also modified the law pertaining to liquor advertising.  The initiative removed a provision that prohibited the Liquor Control Board from advertising liquor but maintained the LCB's "power to adopt any and all reasonable rules as to the kind, character, and location of advertising of liquor."   I-1183 also added that the LCB is prohibited from restricting the "advertising of lawful prices."

 




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