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October 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Liquor and long-term-care initiatives leading in new poll

Posted by Andrew Garber

A Costco-backed initiative to privatize the state liquor system is gaining ground with 53 percent of voters surveyed supporting the measure, according to a new Elway Research poll.

That's up from 46 percent last month and 50 percent in August. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The survey of 407 voters statewide on Oct. 19-20 also found that 68 percent of voters support the SEIU-backed long-term-care training initiative. While that's down from 77 percent in August, pollster Stuart Elway says support has firmed up.

The latest poll shows 64 percent of voters surveyed were "definite" yes votes on the SEIU measure and 4 percent were "probable." In August, 44 percent were definite yes votes and 32 percent were probable.

Initiative 1183 would close state liquor stores and sell their assets, including the liquor-distribution center, and allow grocery stores to sell liquor.

Under the initiative, the state would collect a 17 percent fee from retailers on all liquor sales and a 10 percent fee from distributors. A state analysis estimates the measure could generate up to $253 million in additional liquor revenues over six years for the state and up to $227 million for local governments over the same time period.

The I-1183 campaign has raised a record $22.7 million in cash and in-kind contributions with the vast majority of that coming from Costco.

A group called Protect Our Communities has raised nearly $12 million to oppose the measure, with about $9.4 million of that coming from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.

I-1163 would require background checks and training for long-term-care workers and providers. It essentially would reinstate a measure voters approved in 2008 that was delayed by the Legislature because of budget shortfalls.

The measure is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, which has made cash and in-kind donations of nearly $1.7 million.

State records show a group called People Protecting Our Seniors, No 1163 is opposing the initiative. They've raised $113,000, with $72,000 of that coming from the Washington State Residential Care Council.

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