Obenshain Shelves ABC Bill

Brent Finnegan -- February 10th, 2010

Sen. Mark Obenshain has asked the Senate Finance Committee to forget about his bill that would privatize ABC stores in Virginia. At least for now.

Obenshain’s ABC bill was rejected last year. There was speculation that the bill had a better chance this session, with McDonnell in the governor’s mansion. According to The Washington Post, “the centerpiece of McDonnell’s 24-page [transportation plan was] the privatization of the state’s ABC stores.”

But as it turns out, the bill doesn’t have what it takes. According to a story in today’s Daily News-Record, “Obenshain said he pulled the bill because the chances of it passing during the current 60-day session are now “slim.”

The Roanoke Times reports:

Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, on Tuesday asked the Senate Finance Committee to shelve his bill, which calls for the divestiture of the state’s liquor stores and the auctioning of a limited number of “package store” licenses. Obenshain said his legislation is unlikely to resurface in this legislative session, which ends March 13, but should become part of a broad government reform effort undertaken by McDonnell’s administration. The issue could resurface in a special session later this year.

“We will be back, and we’ll be back soon — and able to present a proposal that will show how we will do this in a way that is going to put additional money in transportation and avoid the commonwealth suffering a financial loss,” Obenshain said.

What’s not addressed in this, or any of the stories about the bill that I have read so far, is precisely how the bill would do what Obenshain has implied it would do — funnel money to state transportation coffers — and how much revenue it would bring in (see the comments on the Richmond Sunlight).

A Post column in favor of the bill said, “It wouldn’t be an enormous revenue producer.”

The only mention of revenue I can find is in § 4.1-116 of the state code;

The net profits derived under the provisions of this title shall be transferred by the Comptroller to the general fund of the state treasury quarterly.

But that’s not the bill — it’s already existing state code. I see no special mention of a transportation fund. Are there other references that I’m missing?

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2 Responses to “Obenshain Shelves ABC Bill”

  1. Since the Guv and Sen. Obenshain like to quote the Wilder Report in advocating sale of the ABC, we should also consider this finding of the Wilder Report:

    …achieving revenue neutrality under full privatization would require Virginia to institute an excise tax of $15.43 per gallon of liquor, which at the time was 300 percent higher than the existing rate of $3.49 per gallon.

    So what is going to be Mr. Obenshain, less revenue, or more liquor stores to raise the revenues? Your numbers don’t make sense dude.

  2. mtnsailor says:

    1)Suggest review of the 2009 Annual Report from Va. ABC- their 75th year. http://WWW.ABC.virginia.gov This report and web site has good info, especially re: history and their professional operation.
    2)For fiscal year 2009, the Va. ABC made and gave to Virginia government a total of $322.3 Million; with $111.8 Million being profit transfers, after all their expenses paid. The Va. ABC has contributed over $1.5 Billion to the Commonwealth in the last 5 years!
    3)In 2008, the General Assembly changed the law and *stopped the ABC profit payments to localities; thus hampering local law enforcement even more with alcohol cases/problems.
    4) Feb. 9, Sen. Obenshain announced *withdrawal of his privatization bill and probable kill for this year. Too many concerns in G.A.?
    5)If any prudent manager thought it a good deal (economically) for Va. to soon sell these licenses off–for now & ever–during *poor economic times, without adequate plans for reaping at least $112 Million/year for Va. (with a ~CPI growth rate), then we’ve got some swamp land to sell you too.
    6)Again, we have not found any local government body that’s in favor of this bill–please help if you know?
    7)Of course, there’s lots of other Cons that should be detailed and studied well, especially by the localities, professionals, pastors and law enforcement people who deal with alcohol deaths, heart-aches and addictons daily. *Please pass on yours–there are many sad stories.

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