State Privatization Proposal Losing Steam

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Gov. Bob McDonnell expects Virginia could raise as much as $500 million from selling more than 300 government-run liquor stores.

State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26th) supports the bill to privatize the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control stores and thinks the money raised could go to important state needs.

He says, "If we do privatize, the funds should go to a priority and transportation is a priority."

However, not all lawmakers agree.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw says the revenue generated from selling the stores could not match the revenues they currently generate.

According to Sasla, the only way to achieve the same figures is to triple the amount of alcohol bought by Virginians.

"That's just empty rhetoric and that's ridiculous," explains Obenshain. "It is not part of the plan. The sale and privatization of our ABC stores is going to be done in a way that doesn't materially change the amount of sales of distilled spirits in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Obenshain explains that having the stores run by the state is outdated and it's time for a change.

"I think that the issue is one that has great promise. We are a tradition-bound state in Virginia. We're 76 years after prohibition right now. Maybe it's about time for us to enter the post-prohibition era," comments Obenshain.

He adds that he believes the state has no place being in the retail business.

As of 2010, Virginia is one of 19 states to have control or a monopoly over their liquor stores.

Only time will tell if it remains part of that group.

McDonnell is currently touring the state in a series of town hall meetings where he's talking about privatizing the ABC stores.

McDonnell's tour brings him to the Valley next Thursday.