Expanding liquor sales to grocery stores would endanger jobs
While I was in training to be a school principal, we learned that it is common to make anywhere from 80 to100 decisions every day. My years as a principal have helped me become a thoughtful legislator – a role in which I must learn about many issues, listen to supporters and opponents, and ultimately make at least 100 decisions every day.
One issue that has piqued my interest lately is the debate about changing our state laws about who can sell liquor.
Our current state law restricts distribution of liquor to independent business owners, but some are arguing that we should expand sales to grocery stores.
My concern about this proposal is based in part on my connection to one of our local small business owners.
When I first started campaigning, my office was part of a building complex in Woodburn that also holds the local liquor store. This store was owned and operated by a small business owner who I ran into frequently and ultimately became friends with. His children and mine went to school together. His wife has been a family friend for years.
So what bothers me about expanding liquor sales to grocery stores is very simple: 248 state-licensed stores could lose significant business, and up to 1,000 employees could lose their jobs.
As Oregons economy slowly but steadily recovers, the prospect of making a decision that would cause a significant number of people to lose their jobs is especially problematic. Four years ago, our governor vetoed a bill because it would have resulted in the loss of 300 jobs in our state.
While the proposed change would make it more convenient to purchase liquor while grocery shopping instead of making an extra stop, there are other questions in play as well.
Is it likely the prices will increase as they have in Washington state? Who would be getting those additional profits? Will minors have easier access to hard liquor? Will we lose revenue from Washingtonians who currently cross the Columbia River every day to purchase liquor here at a cheaper price?
The State Legislature may consider action on this issue in our upcoming session, but if the proponents dont like our actions in February, its likely that a ballot measure campaign will continue.
You might think getting a chance to vote on this topic is a good thing for every voter in the state to have voice, yet beware: Messages on this topic may be highly biased.
And if you think this is a difficult decision, just wait until you see the long list of other measures that are likely to appear on the ballot.
As in any important decision made in your lives or mine, I always think about what the impact will be on my neighbors and on their ability to support their families and have a good paying job.
I support keeping our state-licensed stores open and keeping 1,000 Oregonians working.