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McDonnell will count votes before calling special session

Rosalind Helderman

A special legislative session to privatize the state's liquor monopoly and consider other government reforms is still in the works but is not a sure bet, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) suggested in a radio interview Thursday morning.

On WRVA's monthly "Ask the Governor" program, McDonnell said he'd still like legislators to come to Richmond this fall to consider recommendations from his Government Reform Commission, which will wrap up its work next week.

But McDonnell said he wanted to avoid the "disastrous" transportation special sessions held by his predecessor, Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and that doesn't want to call lawmakers to Richmond if he doesn't have the votes to pass his ABC plan.

"We'll do a count here in the near future and see where we are," McDonnell said.

McDonnell acknowledged that he and his staff are working to tweak the plan he unveiled Sept. 8, in an effort to pick support from wary legislators.

He confirmed one change to the plan would allow small retailers to finance their bids for one of 1,000 proposed new licenses for stores to sell hard liquor.

He said the idea would let mom-and-pop stores buy their licenses "on a payment plan," allaying fears that the only big businesses would be able to afford to get into the market under his proposal. He said a business' license would be revoked if they were unable to keep up with payments.

McDonnell said the complexity of unraveling a 76-year-old state monopoly has made the issue particularly difficult. Legislators have been picking apart his plan and leveling varied and sometimes conflicting critiques of it.

"There's so many moving parts to it that it is one of the more complicated things I've done," he said. "There are probably 15, 20 different ways to do it. It's 'what is the best model for Virginia?' We've made recommendations, and now we're making some adjustments."

But he said he would still like to see the General Assembly return to Richmond in coming weeks to weigh the proposal and other ideas to make government more efficient.

"I would like to have a special session," he said. "The sooner we get it done, the sooner I start putting that money to transportation."

But, he added: "I'm not going to waste time. The previous governor called a couple of special sessions, and they were disastrous. People got together for a week, they did nothing and they went home. It cost us a lot of money. I'm not going to do that."

By Rosalind Helderman  | September 30, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

it's already a disaster.

mcdonnell should just quit and go on dancing with the stars.

Posted by: MarilynManson | September 30, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Gov. McDonnell's plan would improve service for consumers, and make additional funds available for much-needed transportation projects.

And of course, there's no good reason for state government to be in the retail sales business in the first place. Virginia deserves the benefits of a competitive marketplace.

The Governor is demonstrating a willingness to work with a wide variety of groups, and with legislators in both parties. Let's hope the members of the General Assembly respond constructively, to get this job done.

Posted by: jrmil | September 30, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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