Costco refines pitch on Wash. liquor privatization

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A year after failing to get voter support to privatize state liquor sales, Costco Wholesale Corp. and its allies are returning to the ballot for a second opinion.

This year's plan attempts to address the concerns voters raised in 2010, providing a boost in tax revenues while largely prohibiting small convenience stores from participating.

Opponents point to a potential loophole in the constraints, warning that vague wording could mean that minimarts around that state will qualify for liquor. The measure, Initiative 1183, says the liquor control board shall not deny a retail license to proper businesses if "there is no retail spirits license holder in the trade area."

It does not specifically define what a trade area is, leaving that to the liquor board or the courts to ultimately decide.