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Dahlquist-Hurst legislation to address juvenile liquor theft signed into law

Reps. Cathy Dahlquist (R-Enumclaw), far right, and Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), left, alongside Gov. Jay Inslee as he signs House Bill 2155.  - Courtesy photo/Washington State Legislature
Reps. Cathy Dahlquist (R-Enumclaw), far right, and Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), left, alongside Gov. Jay Inslee as he signs House Bill 2155.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Washington State Legislature

For the Reporter

With the passage of Initiative 1183 privatizing liquor sales in the state, the number of locations where alcohol is available has increased as has the theft of alcoholic beverages by underage drinkers.

Reps. Cathy Dahlquist and Christopher Hurst introduced House Bill 2155 to put in place better safeguards to lower liquor theft rates and ensure more is done to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.

House Bill 2155, as signed into law, grants the state Liquor Control Board (LCB) more regulatory authority to impose additional remedial requirements on liquor licensees who are experiencing unacceptable rates of spirits theft, such as requiring the implementation of record-keeping systems designed to reveal and track spirits theft and modification of areas where liquor is displayed or stored to cut down on juvenile theft of spirits. The LCB can also prescribe staff training and levels to ensure the proper protocol is followed.

"As the mother of three children, I believe that as spirits are more readily available, we must ensure they are also properly stored and monitored," said Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw. "To me, it's a safety issue. Keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors will save some families a lot of heartache. As we continue to deal with the unforeseen consequences of liquor privatization, I am sure we'll need to make additional changes that better protect kids."

Both lawmakers believe these small changes will make the voter-approved spirit sales system work better for businesses and curb access for underage drinkers.

"The voters spoke and we now have a system that allows businesses to purchase licenses to sell liquor, rather than have the state-run system we had before," said Hurst, D-Enumclaw. "With this new system comes a lot of responsibility, particularly when it comes to underage drinking. This bill puts in place modest and common-sense changes that we believe will cut down on liquor thefts in general and better protect children."

The bill was signed by the governor March 27. It takes effect June 13.

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