The Washington Liquor Control Board opened an online public auction Thursday of its state-run liquor stores, The Associated Press reports, beginning the process of privatizing the industry the state has controlled since the end of Prohibition. The auction is for all 167 state owned stores, including the ones in Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien, White Center and Tukwila. Within hours Thursday, more than 30 bidders had entered. Nearly a dozen offered to buy rights to all of the stores, though most bids were for individual store locations. The minimum bid set by the state is $1,000. Buying the stores isn’t without its risks, The Associated Press reported, given the current upheaval because of the state being forced out of the industry. Supermarkets and stores over 10,000 square feet will be entering the business for the first time under the voter-approved initiative. All of the state stores are smaller than the square footage required of private facilities, but the state has created exceptions for private enterprise to continue operating the current state-run stores. A Superior Court judge in Kelso has ruled a trial must be held to determine if the initiative measure approved by about 60 percent of state voters was unconstitutional because two subjects were in the measure, a violation of the Washington Constitution. If sustained at a quick trial and upheld by the Washington Supreme Court, the ruling could overturn the measure and derail efforts to implement it June 1.]]>