Washington is in the midst of some of the most sweeping changes to alcohol sales since the state got into the liquor control business at the end of Prohibition in 1933.
State-run liquor stores will close June 1, and sales will shift to grocery stores and other retail outlets in the private sector.
And now the Washington State Liquor Control Board is considering a proposal by the city of Seattle to eliminate the rule prohibiting alcohol sales in bars between 2 and 6 a.m.
If approved, that would mean no more "last call" for those enjoying a libation in the wee hours of the morning.
Of course, businesses would operate in the hours of their choosing, and certainly not every establishment would opt to be open all night.
But for those people who just can't get enough of the nightlife, it would be a welcome change.
A hearing in Kennewick -- one of four held around the state -- drew only two public comments, both in favor of the rule change.
Even our local law enforcement agencies don't have objections to the change, saying that people who are going to drink and drive will break the law regardless of the time of day.
One local bar owner says it would be advantageous for public safety to not have all clubs shutting down at the same time.
In Seattle, proponents of the rule change have promoted the public safety element, saying that as the law is now, establishments are dumping thousands of folks out onto the streets at the 2 a.m. closing time. That creates more opportunities for fights, and competition for cabs could encourage some of the inebriated to risk driving, among other problems.
While we're surprised by the lack of objections to the proposed change at the Kennewick hearing, feedback statewide has split about 50/50.
The time has come to eliminate many of the old-fashioned restrictions on alcohol sales. Change is upon us and the liquor board could decide the issue by May 7.
If approved, the change would allow cities and counties decide the hours from liquor sales within their jurisdictions.
Given the lack of public outcry or opposition by local law enforcement, we would expect local jurisdictions to approve the operating hours if the state makes the rule change.
Some businesses would be sure to benefit, such as Tri-City dance clubs and cab companies.
Public safety might even improve. That fact that we now have a mandatory four-hour prohibition on alcohol sales in licensed establishments probably pushes some folks to try to knock back more drinks than they need before closing time.
Without the threat of a "last call," some folks may just pace themselves at a better rate. At any rate, forcing every drinker onto the sidewalk at the same time is a recipe for trouble.
Washington has long been a state that promoted temperance, and when that failed, prohibition. Our state joined the prohibition movement a full five years before our nation passed the law prohibiting alcohol sales. Temperance is still as good a message today as it was before Washington was a state in the 1800s, and fur traders used liquor as a form of payment.
We'd expect local businesses and residents to act responsibly should a modern-day change in the rules take place.