Task Force Set to Investigate Role of State and LCB in Liquor Sales

“Governor Gary Locke has begun an independent citizen review of the state’s role in retail liquor sales. The Governor’s Retail Liquor Sale Task Force is set to investigate the business operations and role of state government in liquor sales.The Washington State Liquor Control Board has managed the wholesale distribution and retail sales of hard liquor through state-owned stores and contracted agencies since 1933. These stores also sell wines and some malt beverages, as do private retail stores.There may be ways business can enhance efficiency, service, convenience and profitability, Locke said. I know this is a sensitive issue for many people. It has a long history of controversy in our state. For that reason, the task force is balanced in make-up: business, labor, law enforcement, local government, public health, the clergy, citizens, and the tribes have representation.Locke named Bernie Dochnahl of Renton as chair of the group.The 18 members of the task force are charged to examine the Liquor Control Board’s retail sales division. They are to determine how the operation measures up to generally-accepted business practices and similar operations in other states.The governor also asked the group to evaluate the state’s liquor sales monopoly in light of other alternatives – including privatization of liquor sales.Locke said the task force study is designed to be a thorough, balanced, and objective effort. The group met for the first time last week and are slated to submit a report to the governor by December 1 with recommendations for improvements or changes in operations.”