WLA joins lawsuit against Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board over rules restricting options for negotiating liquor pricing.
(Oct. 11, 2015) The Washington Lodging Association joined the Washington Restaurant Association in a lawsuit filed last week against the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) over new rules that would restrict options for negotiating liquor prices. Northwest Grocery Association and Costco have also joined the suit.
The rules, which the LCB adopted in September, establish a strict system of uniform quantity discounts for spirits that specify when and how volume discounts can be calculated. Businesses are prohibited from taking advantage of product promotion and pricing specials, including “family plans,” and from establishing a customer relationship beyond a single, one-time order. The rules are harmful and unfair to restaurants and hotels, and WLA and the WRA believe the courts will ultimately find the rules to be illegal.
“We think it’s pretty simple – price should be determined by the willingness of a customer to pay the price, and the willingness of the buyer to sell at that price, the way it works for ‘goods of all kinds,’ as permitted under the law,” said Bruce Beckett, WRA’s Director of Government Affairs.
Over the last two years, the WRA has been in vocal opposition to a barrage of LCB rules that appear to violate Initiative 1183, the liquor sale privatization measure passed in 2011. As a result, the LCB has received dozens of detailed comment letters and heard from more than 150 local restaurants about the harm the rules will cause, including price increases for customers. It is unfortunate that the LCB has not chosen to acknowledge the concerns of these Washington businesses.
“It was frustrating when the LCB violated the law during the implementation of privatization three years ago. But our objections were affirmed in court when the LCB rule to restrict purchasing options for restaurants was overturned,” said Beckett. “This will be the second time the Board has ignored the impact on small business, and the second time we ask a court to overturn rules that violate the law and impede restaurants and bars from legally acquiring product to run their business.”