The Costco Influence

The Washington state Senate has approved a bill that would give out-of-state wineries and brewers the right to sell directly to retailers – a privilege in-state producers already enjoy. The measure, which passed 48-0 with one lawmaker excused, now heads to the House.

In a lawsuit brought by Issaquah, Washington-based Costco, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in December that the state’s system to import, distribute and sell wine and beer violated the Constitution’s commerce clause.

The judge gave the Legislature until April 14 to level the playing field by either extending self-distribution to out-of-state producers or by withdrawing that privilege from in-state producers.

Some form of the bill is expected to pass.

If the Legislature fails to come up with a solution by the deadline, the judge will take away self-distribution privileges from in-state producers.