Charla Neuman, former aide to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, filed an initiative today to privatize the sale of liquor in Washington State—making it the second liquor privatization initiative to be filed in a month (the first came from Modernize Washingtonin mid-April). Neuman's initiative would get the Washington State Liquor Control Board out of the business of selling liquor by April 1, 2012, and allow distributors to begin selling liquor as soon as October 1, 2011.

Neuman says that the initiative was drafted in response to feedback from individuals and businesses who are fed up with dealing with the WSLCB, but more than that, to "alleviate some of the pain of our current budget problems." Neuman says that without having to deal with sales, the WSLCB can focus all its energy on safety. "It's a no brainer," she says. "Frankly, the state isn't efficient at sales. Our initiative is written in such a way that won't lose money."

What Neuman means is that her initiative is written to require the WSLCB to develop a system to tax distributors (calculated on a per-liter scale) that, when paired with licensing fees and other booze-related revenue sources, would generate "at least the same annual revenue for the state and local jurisdictions as under the current state control system" as well as "at least 100 million" in revenue over five years.

Neuman says she was unaware of Modernize Washington's dueling initiative until it was filed. In reading it, she says her biggest concern is that it could cost the state money. "They have no sources of revenue other than license sales for $1,000 or $2,000 apiece," she says. "With that structure, you'd have to have every store on every corner selling alcohol." Neuman adds that "there's little point in privatizing if it doesn’t increase revenue for the state."

Modernize Washington has yet to return a call for comment. Meanwhile, Neuman says that under her initiative, license fees will be calculated by looking at sales percentages, instead of a flat fee, which makes it fair to mom-and-pop shops looking to compete with larger grocery stores.

Both initiatives will need 241,153 valid signatures to qualify for the statewide November ballot. Submission deadline is July 2, and the Elections Division recommends that all initiative sponsors submit at least 300,000 signatures, in order to cover invalid and duplicate signatures.