Two lawsuits have been filed to block Initiative 1183 from ending the public distribution and sale of hard liquor. The first lawsuit was filed Tuesday by two unions that contend that Initiative 1183 violates the state Constitutional prohibition on legislation that addresses multiple subjects.
The second lawsuit, filed by small grocer interests on Wednesday, asserts much the same issues but includes a reference to the Costco initiative's attempt to alter a signage provision that has long banned liquor advertising. Many people think these lawsuit assertions are a stretch. For the most part, I do too.
What I think is not a stretch in the I-1183 second lawsuit is the reference to advertising. The initiative gave the right to the Washington State Liquor Control Board to set “reasonable” rules for advertising, clearly a move by Costco to circumvent the long-time prohibition on the advertisement of hard liquor.
This could be a purposeful attempt by Costco to eventually use the WSLCB to rule-set the ability for Costco to advertise liquor - and Costco - off-site. For instance, this new provision could conceivably open the door for Costco liquor advertisement on off-site billboards, even in jurisdictions that do not permit such devices.
Regardless of lawsuit contentions about the liquor distribution chain, this advertising issue really is a separate issue, and violates the Constitutional prohibition on legislation that addresses multiple subjects. Read what I thought prior to the passage of the initiative in my blog.
I can’t remember anyone else speaking to this issue prior to the election, so I kind of discounted my skepticism about the provision, but thought it worth mentioning. I’m not surprised to see it pop up in a lawsuit, and I won’t be surprised to see it emerge later as a local issue, if the initiative survives the current legal challenges.