The time to vote is upon us and we are suddenly fielding lots of requests for more information about Washington Sate Initiatives 1100 and 1105. We would first like to make it clear that we are NOT opposed to privatizing liquor. We are opposed to these initiatives for the ways they are trying to go about achieving that privatization.
We, along with The Brewers Association and the Washington Brewers Guild oppose Initiative 1100 (I-1100). The provisions of I-1100 would undermine small brewers’ ability to gain fair access to market and compromise the middle tier of independent beer distributors who are so vital to helping ensure consumer choice through access to a wide variety of beer. If passed, I-1100 will harm small brewery businesses, independent beer distributors and beer consumers in Washington State. The title and ballot description of the initiative 1100 is potentially misleading as it appears only to seek the privatization of retailing spirits. In addition to the privatization, the proposal repeals 39 laws resulting in the deregulation of the entire alcohol industry. 11 of the laws directly impact the brewing industry, eliminating the level playing field that exists in our marketplace today.
1100 will eliminate the level playing field that requires consistent pricing for all breweries and will legalize a Pay to Play sales system where producers and distributers are allowed to offer discounts, free products, etc. Thus shelf space will, in effect, be bought rather than earned by quality. Washington State consumers are lucky enough to currently have literally hundreds of choices of locally made, hand-crafted beers from across our state. I-1100, though, harms consumer choice by giving volume discounts to the largest companies, thereby edging out the small, neighborhood craft breweries.
We are opposed to I-1105 as well because it gives the decision making power to distributors. These initiatives support big corporations (like Costco and the distribution companies) rather than supporting the people of Washington state or the small businesses that will be affected by these changes. It is of great concern to us, as well, that these initiatives are being proposed by large corporations like Costco. For example, did you know that Costco and Wal-Mart are the main corporate sponsors behind Initiative 1100? Upon losing their court case to loosen alcohol restrictions, Costco went to the Washington state legislature. When their legislation failed to pass, they embarked upon the last remaining course of action to change law, the initiative process.
Boundary Bay Brewery believes strongly in small, local businesses and in doing what is right at the community level. We feel that it is important to vote NO on I-1100 and I-1105 to continue supporting neighborhood businesses, the wonderfully creative and thriving craft brewing industry and the right of the public to choose for ourselves rather than letting big businesses make decisions for us.