ABC Privatization Bill Quashed In Committee

Brent Finnegan -- February 4th, 2011

Sen. Mark ObenshainSen. Mark Obenshain’s bill that would have privatized state-owned liquor stores in Virginia was killed in committee Friday morning.

SB1272 had the support of Gov. Bob McDonnell, who toured Virginia last year to promote the plan.

The Washington Post reports that Friday’s rejection came as no surprise. Rosalind Helderman writes:

The development was widely anticipated — Republican House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) and other GOP-leaders had already declared the bill essentially dead.

And in the Senate, Rehabilitation and Social Services committee Chairwoman Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax) had said repeatedly that her panel would not hear the bill until the Republican-led House of Delegates advanced the proposal.

But unlike in the House, where McDonnell’s Republican allies showed no interest in privatization, the GOP in the Senate had pushed for the idea to be heard.

However, McDonnell failed to gain enough legislative support, even after revising his proposal several times, and he has barely mentioned the idea since this year’s session has begun.

In a public statement, Obenshain blasted Senate Democrats for killing his bill “without even voting on it.”

In a way, this is a rerun of the 2009 session (during the Kaine administration) when Obenshain’s earlier ABC privatization proposal was rejected.

File photo of Obenshain by Holly Marcus.

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9 Responses to “ABC Privatization Bill Quashed In Committee”

  1. Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

    The Committee’s refusal to take up SB 1417 is particularly notable, given that the bill was introduced at the Governor’s request. “I can’t remember a time when the General Assembly didn’t do the Governor the courtesy of at least giving his legislation a fair hearing,” said Obenshain. “Senate Democrats are breaking new ground here. Their decision is both unwarranted and unprecedented.”

    What is truly remarkable is that House of Delegates Republicans left Lord Obenshain to twist in the wind with his effort to privatize alcohol sales in Virginia. The alcohol industry bought the wrong politician.

  2. David Miller says:

    I was never able to track down numbers from the proposed bill. The claim was that it was revenue neutral but for the life of me I can’t figure out how

    • Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

      Liquor store Privatization, in addition to putting a minimum of 3 times more liquor stores across Virginia, never got closer than a $50 million hole in the Virginia budget. And because the Guv is pimping liquor sales as the way to fund transportation, you can bet that liquor stores will be encouraged to sell more liquor.

      Lord Obenshain told us that privatization would bring “$700 million” in revenue. Then the Guv said “at least $500 million”, now we have a net loss with ABC privatization.

      • David Miller says:

        That’s pretty much what I gathered as well. The claims for a net gain from his privatization proposal still continue from Obenshain but I just can’t find any published math that would add up to that.

        • Lowell Fulk says:

          If there is such glaring dishonesty in the signature initiative of ones career, what conclusion can reasonably be drawn regarding everything else espoused by said individual?

  3. Jim says:

    Yes, the whole liquor privatization “plan” was a joke from day one…in matter of fact, it was such a bad plan, the Governor couldn’t even win over folks in his own party…now, that’s bad! Not to mention, the social (and moral) implications of (attempting) to peddle booze on every street corner quick mart, and 7-11…no thank you!

    Still, then you have good ole Mark Obenchain, a dependable lemming, all-to-ready to sponsor a bill everyone knew that was going no where! Fail!

  4. Dwayne Wade says:

    As someone who works for VA ABC, I decided to post this anonymously as we’re not “allowed” to publicly remark on this issue.

    The governor’s original number projection formulated a $700 million windfall for transportation while then being able to match our annual revenue every year thereafter. His proposal was sent to an audit committee that discovered his math was more than a little fuzzy. It was determined that the state would net a loss of roughly $50 million each year as opposed to the appx. $120 million we generate scott-free for the general fund.

    There were plenty of dubious statements in his proposal. For example, when he spoke in his town hall here in Harrisonburg, he claimed that privatization would create new jobs. He never mentioned the thousands of ABC employees who would be out on unemployment (at cost to the taxpayer). And he said that he wasn’t proposing a bunch of new stores but instead “more like an extra shelf at Kroger for liquor.” An extra shelf at Kroger doesn’t mean new jobs, it’s means smaller selection for the consumer and worse customer service. We at ABC pride ourselves in our ability to answer questions for customers. We routinely undergo product knowledge training. But have you ever gone to Food Lion and tried to ask someone about a particular beer or wine? Ha. You’re more than likely going to be getting a grinning “I don’t drink…” from the 16 year-old clerk.

    Not only for the obvious selfish reasons but also as a consumer, I’m glad that the privatization bill was squashed for at least this session.

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