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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

New initiatives would privatize liquor sales, outlaw martial arts weapons

OLYMPIA -- Another initiative to privatize the state's liquor business is being proposed. A group calling itself Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform filed a measure to get the state out of the liquor business but to continue to raise money from it through a percentage of the booze sold.

Also looking to give voters a chance to pass a new law is the North American Self-defense Association, which has one proposal to outlaw all martial arts weapons at schools and colleges, and another that would mandate "abduction prevention training" as part of physical education courses at public schools.

Both groups face rather daunting math for getting their proposals on the ballot.

There are less than 60 days left before the July 2 deadline for turning in signatures, and while the state requires about 242,000 valid signatures, most drives shoot for 300,000 to allow for a certain number of invalidated signers.

Even if sponsors can get the language of the initiatives checked and petitions printed by the middle of the month, they'll have, at best, 45 days for a signature drive.That means they'll need to collect about 6,700 signatures a day. That's 277 an hour or 5 a minute.

"It's a heavy lift," said Charla Neuman, a spokeswoman for the liquor sales initiative. They'll have paid signature gatherers because "in that amount of time, there's no other way to do it."

One complicating factor on liquor sales is there are two other initiatives aimed at getting the state out of the liquor stor business. The biggest difference, Neuman said, is that this proposal  ties the fee for the license to a store's sales, rather than charging a flat rate for a license. So the more a store sells, the more the state makes.

Jim Curtis of the self-defense association, said they will rely strictly on volunteers for what he concedes is "a big push." He has contacts with veterans groups, the self-defense and martial arts groups, and hopes to enlist some civic groups. Curtis said he has tried to interest legislators in bills that would do the same thing, but has received "the cold shoulder."

To see all the initiatives to the people proposed thus for this year, click here to go to the Secretary of State's website.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.