Democrats may introduce McDonnell's liquor bill in House
Democrats may introduce Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's bill to privatize the state liquor stores in the House of Delegates whether he wants them to or not.
House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) said in an interview Thursday that he was concerned McDonnell (R) may be "playing politics" by planning to only introduce the controversial bill in the Democratic-led Senate -- where it will likely be killed -- so he can blame Democrats for the bill's death.
"If that gets back to me that that's going to happen then we would seriously consider introducing that bill on the House side,'' Armstrong said. "The House could take whatever action it deems appropriate. We're not going to be in a position where we're going to be politically blamed.''
Armstrong said a final decision will be made after McDonnell determines whether a Republican will introduce the bill in the House. Delegates have until next Friday to introduce bills.They are limited to 15 bills.
"What we're waiting on is to see if it's going to be introduced.'' he said. "If McDonnell is truly making an effort to get it introduced here and he may very well be, okay. Whether someone, whether it's the speaker or the governor or both, has made a tactical decision, 'hey, wait, let's not introduce in the House,' then I think it's not right.'
According to the governor's office, Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) has agreed to sponsor the bill in the House if aides decide to file one there.
Armstrong said House Democrats have been considering the strategy for months. But this week Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) also posed the idea to House Democrats, according to several Democratic members.
"If he can't get a single member of the House of Delegates to carry the bill, he's got a huge political problem," Senate Democratic caucus chairman Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) said. ''The Senate has indicated from the very beginning that we would only take up the bill if it came over the House. He knows that."
McDonnell unveiled a revised proposal this week to close 332 state-owned liquor stores and replace them with 1,000 private retail outlets -- a scaled-back version of his original plan.
Under the proposal, the state is expected to reap at least $200 million upfront for the sale of new liquor licenses and $13.1 million more than it now collects each year in profits and taxesat Alcoholic Beverage Control stores.
McDonnell failed to get support for his original proposal to privatize all aspects of the 77-year-old liquor system, including wholesale, distribution and retail operations. He hopes his new retail-only proposal will be more favorably received.
"I believe we shouldn't have government monopolies on anything, unless it's a constitutionally mandated service.'' he told reporters Wednesday.
Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman
| January 13, 2011; 4:15 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman
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