BOISE -- The debate over whether the state should be in the liquor business was center stage today at the City Club of Boise luncheon.

There's two sides to this privatization or deregulation of state liquor sales. The first one says the government shouldn't even be in this business to begin with. The other side says why fix something that's not broken.

It's a very complicated issue that's not as simple as I'll just get the government out of the business, said Jeff Anderson, Director of the Idaho State Liquor Division.

Anderson took the stance Friday of informing the public what his division does and how it benefits Idahoans.

One of those benefits is the revenue stream.

That revenue stream is embedded in the budgets of cities and counties and schools, to just say we're not going to do that anymore, that number is $700 million over the next decade, said Anderson.

But Gloria Totoricaguena, a lobbyist for the Northwest Grocers Association, says that's not the point.

We don't want the government competing in the private sector in something that is so common sense for us, retail sales, said Totoricaguena.

She says right now there are 32 states who have open retail sales of liquor - each with different models.

So there isn't one right way to do it. It's not the Washington model or the Nevada model, it needs to be the Idaho model, said Totoricaquena.

But looking at the Washington model has Anderson worried, since that state recently privatized liquor sales.

So we've seen higher outlet density, higher taxes, higher prices, and it remains to be seen, but it's likely that there will be increased risk to public health and safety, said Anderson.

This debate will no doubt continue to go on. State lawmakers are not expected to see any legislation this session, but there's a chance there could be a bill in 2014.

Even though there is no legislation planned for this year, those in favor of privatizing liquor want to continue discussing, educating and bringing awareness to this issue.

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