With approximately 52% of the votes, opponents of Washington State’s I-1100 prevailed against the hotly contested measure that would end control of liquor sales by the state and allow sale, distribution and importation of liquor to private parties. Proponents of the initiative touted the bill as an opportunity to modernize outdated “blue laws,” in place since the end of prohibition, over 150 years ago, and allow the states Liquor Control Board to place more time and emphasis on education and working to deter underage drinking. The opposition of I-1100 cautioned that the sale of hard liquor by retailers where minors have more access to such products would only increase the amount of underaged drinking, citing that the states success rate in policing the problem is higher in Washington than in states with privatized spirits sales.
The Washington Brewers Guild came out against 1100 with concerns that it would seriously hinder small brewers access to market, create an unfair palying field to market their products and limit the consumers choice of craft beers in the Washington market. To the guild, defeating 1100 represents a major victory for small brewers and consumers, alike. The Brewers Association came out in support of the Guilds opposition in late September.
In other small brewer election victories, California state Proposition 26 passed. Prop. 26 will now require a Supermajority, or 2/3 vote, to pass new taxes and fees. To California small brewers, the victory represents a defense against proponents of raising the already high tax burden on small craft brewers. Earlier in the year, just such a threat was vetoed by the mayor of San Francisco eliminating a tax that would have been levied on craft brewers, among others,to cover alcohol-related costs to the city.