General Assembly In Session

Brent Finnegan -- January 14th, 2010

General Assembly is back in session in Richmond, and Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del. Matt Lohr have introduced some familiar-looking bills. For Lohr, his HB393 abortion clinic bill looks an awful lot like 2008’s HB894. Obenshain is still working to redefine the triggerman rule, which Kaine vetoed more than once, but McDonnell will likely sign into law. Obenshain has also proposed an “In God We Trust” license plate.

You can peruse Lohr’s bills here, and Obenshain’s here.

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10 Responses to “General Assembly In Session”

  1. Dan says:

    It’s nice to see that our representatives are addressing the really important issues.

  2. This one just came through. Obenshain’s ABC privatization bill gained at least some bipartisan support last year among rank-and-file voters.

    I have no sense of how good/bad the chances for this bill are with a Republican governor in office.

  3. It is my understanding that privatizing ABC stores was part of McDonnell’s platform, so he is presumably for it, although details will matter. He was for it supposedly to help as a revenue enhancer without raising taxes. However, if all that happens is that they are sold off, revenues will be up for the year of the sale but then down later as the once-received ABC profits go to the private owners. Once upon a time in the UK, the late Harold MacMillan (a Tory PM) described this sort of thing as “selling off the family silver.”

    BTW, I am for privatizing the ABC stores in principle, but again, at a minimum something should be done to make sure that there is not a permanent decline in state revenues as a result of it. The Commonwealth is facing a severe enough budget shortfall as it is, which will be made worse by the knee jerk attitude of the Assembly against any tax increases whatsoever, a position supported by the incoming governor.

  4. Will says:

    Agree with the comments above 100 percent. Unless, I am misunderstaning something this appears to be tactic straight out to Jim Gilmore’s School of Public Finance…

    I’m guess some retail lobby must have donated a couple of thousands bucks to Mark’s campaign. Otherwise, this just makes no sense to me…

  5. Gene Hart says:

    Privatization without deregulation will only result in a continued big distributorship oligarchy. Sell the existing stores, allow other licensed businesses to sell as well (scotch tasting at Downtown Wine anyone?), get rid of the 55/45 rule for restaurants and watch for the growth of new small, community-based businesses.

    Like Barkley, I do worry that liquor taxation will not keep pace sufficiently to replace current revenues. Remember, price increases by ABC are really no different than increased tax rates in a privatized regime; they just don’t require legislators to actually vote for them.

  6. Renee says:

    @hburgcook commented on twitter about how unbelievable some of the bills were, like “SB548 would require retail establishments to allow customers to use the restroom in certain specific gotta-go circumstances.” and
    “Seems local prosecutor/delegate Cline thinks court appointed counsel may be getting paid too much, even though VA is 50th in the US. HB864”

  7. I do think Del. Lohr’s bill to set a standard grading scale across the Commonwealth isn’t a bad idea.

    As for ABC privatization, I think that it is a good idea, and will probably pass.

    I think some of the fears of “we’ll lose the revenue” from the ABC will be offset by the fact that along with shedding the revenues, the state government will also be shedding the operating costs. Thus, they’ll still get profits in the form of sales taxes.

    However, this will only work if you open up the liquor market to competition (much like Gene suggested), otherwise you’ll just have the same “one ABC store per area” regime…only with private owners monopolizing the area’s business instead of the state.

  8. Phil,

    Profits are after operating costs. So, there is no additional gain against the lost profits by the reduced costs. That is already counted. And, as it stands, the existing tax structure will not make up the lost profits in out years. To do that, the GOPsters will have to (eeeeeek!) raise taxes on alcoholic beverages (or on something) to recover those lost downstream profits.

  9. Lohr’s abortion clinic bill made it out of the House Subcommittee. From the DNR:

    But sponsor Del. Matt Lohr, R-Broadway, expects tough sledding for the proposed legislation in the Senate, where Democrats defeated a similar bill two years ago.

    The Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, controlled by Republicans, passed the bill 16-6, with the help of Del. Richard “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, whose 20th District includes a portion of Rockingham County.

    The bill now goes to the full House of Delegates, where Lohr said a final vote on the proposed legislation could come next week.

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