Stateline Story

Liquor Privatization Initiative Polls Well in Washington State

Legislators often talk about privatizing state liquor stores as a way to raise cash. As Stateline has noted, however, they rarely follow through . West Virginia was the last state to privatize its retail liquor business, and that happened 20 years ago.

Voters in Washington State, however, may not be in the mood to hear lawmakers debate the idea any longer. A proposal that would end state ownership of liquor stores is polling strongly as voters prepare to cast their ballots next week, The Associated Press reports .

The poll , conducted by the University of Washington, finds that about 48 percent of Washington voters support the privatization plan, known as Initiative 1183. That compares with about 41 percent who are opposed, with the rest undecided.

"Initiative 1183 looks like it is headed for passage," the director of the poll — which has a strong track record of predicting electoral outcomes — tells the AP.

The initiative would close state liquor stores, auction off their assets and license private companies to take over. It has driven an intense political battle that has already made Initiative 1183 the costliest ballot measure in state history, as The Seattle Times noted earlier this month .