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Liquor Privatization Battle Could Be Headed For Oregon

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

Oregon voters could have the chance to follow Washington's lead next year when it comes to liquor sales.

A grocery industry group filed a slate of initiatives Monday to end the state monopoly on selling liquor.

In Oregon, only the state Liquor Control Commission can sell bottles of hard alcohol. It does so through a series of contracted retail outlets. Big chain grocery stores want to be able to sell liquor on their shelves alongside beer and wine.

A spokesman for the grocery industry group that filed the initiatives wouldn't speak on tape but issued a statement calling the current system an outdated monopoly. The group has until next July to gather enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot.

A similar state-run system existed in Washington until voters decided to end it in 2011 following a $20 million dollar campaign led by Costco.

Oregon lawmakers will also consider whether to partially privatize the state-controlled liquor system when they meet in February