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Saslaw: ABC privatization won't cover the cost of an overpass

By Christy Goodman

Virginia Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw told the Alexandria City Council that the one-time transportation funds coming to Northern Virginia from Gov. Bob McDonnell's ABC privatization proposal would not even cover the cost of an overpass.

Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said if the governor's original proposal to privatize ABC stores in the commonwealth managed to generate $500 million, about $110 million would come to Northern Virginia. The senator said if the governor kept the state's wholesale liquor industry, but sold the retail stores, that would generate an estimated $300 million, sending some $60 million to $65 million to Northern Virginia.

That is "not even an overpass in Tysons Corner," Saslaw said.

This week McDonnell (R) hired an outside vendor, PFM Group, to study the state's liquor system. Several legislators and lobbyists reported they have been speaking with the governor's office about keeping the wholesale side of the business.

Saslaw's comments came at a joint meeting between the Alexandria City Council and the Alexandria delegation to the General Assembly.

The council, fearing privatization, asked the delegation to oppose any limits over its zoning authority over stores selling hard liquor, said Bernard Caton, the city's legislative director. The city wants full authority to place any new stores in approved areas.

Arlington County has proposed a similar stance in their legislative priorities, which will be discussed on Saturday.

At this point, Saslaw said, McDonnell does not have the votes. The governor has about half of the 51 votes needed from the house and about one-third of the 21 Senate votes needed to pass the proposal, said Saslaw, who noted that in his many years in office he has "never gotten a single complaint about ABC."

A public hearing will be held on Saturday regarding Alexandria's legislative priorities.

By Christy Goodman  | November 9, 2010; 8:43 PM ET
Categories:  Alexandria, Arlington County, Christy Goodman, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell  
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I've seen where a past ABC chair years ago explained that ABC was considering more than market factors when siting new ABC stores -- proximity to substance abuse treatment centers, places of worship, schools, playgrounds, daycare -- and considering community feedback. How about under the governor's scheme?

The current proposal would triple the number of outlets of the most potent-per-ounce form of alcohol and put hard liquor in groceries, drug and convenience stores...impulse buys 24/7. Pitfalls include self-checkout lanes, underage sales clerks, higher rate of shoplifting compared to liquor stores. Communities would have to deal with the fallout like increased underage binge drinking... Youth prefer liquor(CDC).

Out west Washington state voters rejected privatization ballot initiatives on Nov. 2. There's a lot of information on the privatization issue (pro and con) and links to studies in a resource brief "Privatization of Alcohol Sales" at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute website.

Posted by: anonymousid | November 11, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

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