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AGLO 1981 No. 23 - August 05, 1981
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Ken Eikenberry | 1981-1992 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- INTOXICATING LIQUOR ‑- LICENSES ‑- ISSUANCE OF RETAIL LIQUOR LICENSE BY COUNTY

In view of the subsequent enactment of RCW 66.08.120, a part of the 1933 State Liquor Code, a county may not lawfully grant a "retail license" to an establishment selling liquor pursuant to the territorial statute codified as RCW 67.14.040.

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                                                                  August 5, 1981

Honorable C. Thomas Moser
Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County
Courthouse Annex
Mount Vernon, Washington 98273                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1981 No. 23

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you requested our opinion on the following question:

            "May a county lawfully grant a 'retail license' to establishments selling liquor pursuant to RCW 67.14.040 in light of apparently contrary provisions in RCW 66.08.120?"

            We answer the foregoing question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In posing your question, you have also indicated your own belief that it is properly answerable in the negative.  We agree.  RCW 66.08.120 means precisely what it says; i.e.,

            "No municipality or county shall have power to license the sale of, or impose an excise tax upon,liquor as defined in this title, or to license the sale  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] or distribution thereof in any manner; and any power now conferred by law on any municipality or county to license premises which may be licensed under this section, or to impose an excise tax upon liquor, or to license the sale and distribution thereof, as defined in this title, shall be suspended and shall be of no further effect: PROVIDED, That municipalities and counties shall have power to adopt police ordinances and regulations not in conflict with this title or with the regulations made by the board."  (Emphasis supplied)

            This statute was passed in 1933 as a part of the new State Liquor Code enacted by chapter 62, Laws of 1933, 1st Ex. Sess., following the repeal of Prohibition under the federal constitution.1/   RCW 67.14.040, on the other hand, is basically the codification of a prior, territorial law relating to the issuance of liquor licenses by counties2/  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] which thus must be deemed to have been impliedly repealed by so much of RCW 66.08.120, supra, as reads:

            ". . . any power now conferred by law on any municipality or county to license premises which may be licensed under this section, or to impose an excise tax upon liquor, or to license the sale and distribution thereof, as defined in this title, shall be suspended and shall be of no further effect: . . ."

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

KENNETH O. EIKENBERRY
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/See, U.S. Const., Amendment 21.

2/Its very language, notably, attests to its antiquity‑-as follows:

            "The legislative authorities of each county, in their respective counties, shall have the power to grant license to persons to keep drinking houses or saloons therein, at which spirituous, malt, or fermented liquors and wines may be sold in less quantities than one gallon; and such license shall be called a retail license upon the payment, by the person applying for such license, of the sum of three hundred dollars a year into the county treasury, and the execution of a good and sufficient bond, executed to such county in the sum of one thousand dollars, to be approved by such legislative authority or the county auditor of the county in which such license is granted, conditioned that he will keep such drinking saloon or house in a quiet, peaceable, and orderly manner; . . ."
(Emphasis supplied)

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