Oregon group says it's time to get the state out of the liquor b - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon group says it's time to get the state out of the liquor business

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The Oregon Supreme Court has approved a ballot title that could eventually lead to hard liquor on grocery store shelves, right next to wine and beer. 

This essentially gives the group behind the measure the green light to begin gathering the signatures they need to put Initiative 71 on November's ballot. The group, called Oregonians for Competition, says they plan to be on the streets gathering those signatures immediately.

The group made up of grocers, retailers and craft distillers says it’s time to get the state out of the business of selling liquor. A move, they argue, would increase choice competition and convenience for consumers.

“Oregon is one of only 17 states still clinging to the state monopoly system that controls liquor pricing,” said Oregonians for Competition Campaign Manager Amanda Dalton.

According to Oregon’s Secretary of State office, big financial backers of the measure include the Northwest Grocery Association, which is made up of some 400 grocery stores in Oregon.

Those state records go on to show Albertson’s LLC contributed more than $2 million to the campaign so far.  The Distilled Spirits Council US shelled out some $500-thousand dollars, according to the website.

“It’s going to affect all the small distilleries,” said CEO of Indio Spirits John Ufford.

Ufford says he’s also part of the Oregon Distiller Guild, who plans to fight the initiative.  Ufford said hard liquor being sold in grocery stores would jack up their prices and impact their business.

“The calculator is already published, so our $29.95 bottle would be $44.95,” said Ufford.  “There's a lot of us that are freaking out, luckily we sell in other states, otherwise it would affect us very much so.”

Consumers we spoke to seemed to stand divided on the issue.

“I don’t like it at all, not one bit, there are too many liquor stores around,” said consumer Donald Shaw. “You have them in stores and the young kids have easier access to get the liquor.  I don’t like it.”

“I don’t see a problem with it,” said consumer Laura Blaney. “I think liquor should be available in grocery stores.”

Backers of this initiative need some 88,000 plus signatures by July in order to put the initiative on November’s ballot.

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