Suit Filed to Stop WA Initiative

Two unions have filed a lawsuit in Washington state attempting to stop implementation of Initiative 1183.

The lawsuit says the measure violates a rule that requires an initiative to address just one issue. The legal tactic is common and sometimes successful.

Besides privatizing liquor sales in the state, I-1183 also changes wine-distribution laws, changes the ability of the Liquor Control Board to regulate alcohol advertising and creates new franchise protections for liquor distributors, the lawsuit says.

Hundreds of Teamster workers also believe they would lose their jobs, because they distribute liquor and wine under the current system.

Costco spent a record $22 million to help pass the initiative through the Yes on 1183 campaign.

Distributors oppose I-1183 because it tears down laws put in place after Prohibition that require retailers to use distributors when buying liquor and, to some extent, wine.

The Liquor Control Board will continue implementing I-1183 unless a court orders it to stop, a spokesman said. It is on track to stop selling liquor by June 1, when grocery stores measuring at least 10,000 square feet will be eligible to sell it.

I-1183 officially becomes law Thursday.