11-19-2017  5:52 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

Multnomah County Animal Services Waives Adoption Fees Nov. 17

Special runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday ...

Fitzpatrick Presents 'Pathway 1000' Plan Before City Council

Plan would restore involuntary displacement by building 80 homes per year ...

Sisters Network to Hold Monthly Meeting Nov. 11

Meeting to take place Saturday morning at June Key Delta Center ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Stateline Liquor Store
The Skanner News

In 2011, Washington State privatized liquor sales after a record-setting, $20 million-campaign. Now the grocery industry is looking to repeat that success, with a liquor privatization initiative that is destined to hit the Oregon ballot box, in 2014.

 Backers hope they can expand into the profitable liquor market by taking spirits sales out of the hands of the Oregon Liquor Commission. An Oregon initiative likely would propose increased funding for local law enforcement, education and human services, in an effort to gain widespread support.  

We don’t have any objection to the idea in principle. Stores already sell wine and beer. And OLCC records show they mostly do it responsibly, avoiding sales to minors and visibly intoxicated people. Many of the stores which want to expand into spirits sales already are members of the OLCC’s Responsible Vendor program, and committed to training their staff to enforce the law. Customers would value the extra convenience. So why shouldn’t grocery stores sell bourbon or vodka?

We can see no good reason for the state to have a monopoly on selling spirits. The state should get out of the business of selling spirits and concentrate on enforcement, with its efforts focused on troubled licensees.  

What voters should not support, however, is a repeat of the Washington fee hikes that saw the cost of spirits rise sharply after the initiative passed. Despite promises that increased competition would lower prices, the exact opposite has happened. A visit to Stateline Liquor at Jantzen Beach found that almost every car in the parking lot has Washington plates. Why? Spirits now cost far more in Washington than they did when the Washington Liquor Control Board managed the stores. 

The Washington state initiative added a 10 percent distribution fee, and 17 percent retail fee. That’s in addition to any markups the grocers add independently. Taxes stayed the same.

Lobbyists for the grocers and wholesalers say competition will eventually bring costs down. They say Washingtonians are just now starting to see incremental decreases. Wholesalers increased their prices as soon as the law passed. And because the initiative allowed for bulk markdowns on wine and spirits, the new law also puts small, local wineries and distillers at a disadvantage.

Oregon backers contend they are well-aware of the pricing issues. They say they are working to build efficiencies into an Oregon initiative that will prevent Washington-style price increases. 

And in order to prevent disadvantaging small local distillers, industry advocates are considering creating a new specialty boutique license that would allow licensees to sell products from Oregon distillers. That plan also would provide funding for an Oregon distillers board, similar to the Oregon Wine Board.

Bottom line, The Skanner News believes that the concept appears solid in principle. However, backers should not forget critical funding for programs that support alcohol education and treatment programs. Liquor privatization must come with increased and sustainable funding to prevent and treat alcohol abuse and addiction. 

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