Liberalize Ore. liquor or face initiative

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A lobbyist for big grocery chains warned Oregon lawmakers that if the Legislature doesn’t liberalize alcohol laws, his clients will launch an initiative in 2014 to privatize the entire system.

The Oregonian reports that lobbyist Joe Gilliam says the public has gone sour on Oregon’s “archaic” network of laws that segregates liquor sales from all other products.

Gilliam worked with Costco and others to get voters in Washington to revoke that state’s monopoly on liquor sales last year. The results were higher prices for alcohol, enough that Washington shoppers on the border have been buying booze in Oregon. But overall sales have gone up.

Gilliam made his comments to the House Business and Labor Committee, which is looking at changes to Oregon’s liquor laws.