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Posted at 11:16 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Senate committee action effectively kills liquor store privatization plan

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

A key Senate committee on Friday rejected an effort by a Republican to consider Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize state liquor stores, essentially putting a final nail in the coffin of the proposal's legislative chances.

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.

The governor has said he still believes in privatization and will continue to push it during the remainder of his two year term.

Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) asked Friday that Puller place the bill on committee's agenda for the day. Puller ruled the motion out of order, taking the Democratic position ina debate over Senate rules that has divided the parties in the chamber this year. The committee upheld her ruling on a 8 to 6 party-line vote.

"I think most voters believe that when a bill is introduced, a vote is taken, at least in committee," said bill sponsor Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) in a statement. "That's the civics class understanding, and that's the way it's supposed to be. Unfortunately, some members find it easier to duck votes on contentious issues, and their leaders refuse to ever let some bills be heard."

McDonnell had made his proposal to end the state's monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits a signature issue over the summer. He held town hall meetings highlighting the idea and initially planned to hold a special session of the legislature in the fall to consider it.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | February 4, 2011; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Liquor privatization, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate, William Howell  
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Next: Senate GOP ratchets up protest while McDonnell still looking at ABC options

Comments

Amazing. Republicans chant Govn't can't effectively run anything.

Here we have an effectively run system making profits and what do Republicans do? Try and get rid of it.

Outstanding!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 4, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

So much for the tea party endorsement!
Glad to see there is some common sense in VA.
The ABC system in VA is admirable and I wish DC also had such a system.
There are way too many liquor stores in DC and most are a blight and a bring crime.

Posted by: MarilynManson | February 4, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It is deplorable that Ms. Puller and Senate Democrats refused to allow any discussion of Gov. McDonnell's ABC reform plan.

The legislation would give more choices to consumers, provide new business opportunities, and generate much-needed revenue for transportation projects.

And of course, there's no good reason for state government to be involved in a retail sales business.

Voters should hold Ms. Puller and other anti-reform legislators accountable at the polls this fall.

Posted by: jrmil | February 4, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Typical Republican BS, talk a good game then cut and run away from that stupid idea once elected, because all they really want to do is start cutting corporate taxes.

Posted by: MajorFacemask | February 4, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Drink taxes funding transportation projects? That's a cruel irony. Such a plan presumes the amount of alcohol we consume is proportional to how much we drive.

Tacking on a nickel a gallon gas tax for transportation projects would bring in revenues more proportional to the use of roads. I'd like to think it would also gently encourage public transit and higher fuel efficiency, but with the way gas prices have been rising, it would hardly be noticed.

If you prefer a more progressive tax, make it a penny / nickel / dime for regular / mid / super.

Personally, I would prefer drink taxes fund anti-DUI programs.

Posted by: wpjf | February 4, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@jrmil - Drink taxes funding transportation projects? That's a cruel irony. Such a plan presumes the amount of alcohol we consume is proportional to how much we drive.

Tacking on a nickel a gallon gas tax for transportation projects would bring in revenues more proportional to the use of roads. I'd like to think it would also gently encourage public transit and higher fuel efficiency, but with the way gas prices have been rising, it would hardly be noticed.

If you prefer a more progressive tax, make it a penny / nickel / dime for regular / mid / super.

Personally, I would prefer drink taxes fund anti-DUI programs.

Posted by: wpjf | February 4, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

@jrmil - Drink taxes funding transportation projects? That's a cruel irony. Such a plan presumes the amount of alcohol we consume is proportional to how much we drive.

Tacking on a nickel a gallon gas tax for transportation projects would bring in revenues more proportional to the use of roads. I'd like to think it would also gently encourage public transit and higher fuel efficiency, but with the way gas prices have been rising, it would hardly be noticed.

If you prefer a more progressive tax, make it a penny / nickel / dime for regular / mid / super.

Personally, I would prefer drink taxes fund anti-DUI programs.

Posted by: wpjf | February 4, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

@jrmil - Drink taxes funding transportation projects? That's a cruel irony. Such a plan presumes the amount of alcohol we consume is proportional to how much we drive.

Tacking on a nickel a gallon gas tax for transportation projects would bring in revenues more proportional to the use of roads. I'd like to think it would also gently encourage public transit and higher fuel efficiency, but with the way gas prices have been rising, it would hardly be noticed.

If you prefer a more progressive tax, make it a penny / nickel / dime for regular / mid / super.

Personally, I would prefer drink taxes fund anti-DUI programs.

Posted by: wpjf | February 4, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

@jrmil - Drink taxes funding transportation projects? That's a cruel irony. Such a plan presumes the amount of alcohol we consume is proportional to how much we drive.

Tacking on a nickel a gallon gas tax for transportation projects would bring in revenues more proportional to the use of roads. I'd like to think it would also gently encourage public transit and higher fuel efficiency, but with the way gas prices have been rising, it would hardly be noticed.

If you prefer a more progressive tax, make it a penny / nickel / dime for regular / mid / super.

Personally, I would prefer drink taxes fund anti-DUI programs.

Posted by: wpjf | February 4, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

So much fun reading these comments especially when jrmil apparently can't read. The Senate, narrowly controlled by Democrats, would not vote until the House, overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans voted on the measure. The House would not even bring the issue up in committee. So why should the Senate. Ms Puller is only asking that the Virginia legislature use its 46 day session to advance and consider legislation that has some chance of passing. "jrmil" go back and read the article instead of blindly attacking the Democrats. McDonnell proposed the privatization during his election campaign. None of the numbers added up. He changed the proposal at least twice and the numbers still did not add up. Yes, both Republicans and Democrats saw this as a way of meeting a campaign promise. But McDonnell and his administration did not push this because all knew it was not of benefit to the Commonwealth.

"Jrmil" beat up on Democrats for something that makes sense.

Posted by: Willis3 | February 4, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I do not understand where this rumor developed that Virginia would raise revenue by privatizing. While I am certain most people who oppose privatization have no ideological attachment to state-run liquor stores, I can certainly understand why legislators would not want to privatize in a way that cost the Commonwealth money.

If we were flush with cash, the story would be different, but right now is not a good time to cut out approximately $100 million per year in profits. The Commonwealth cannot cut much more, and this privatization plan essentially lets private companies take the $100 million instead of the state. If McDonnell could have figured out a way to make up the difference, he would have seen much more support for his bill. Unfortunately, the numbers just don't add up.

Posted by: PatientlyWaiting | February 4, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Virginia does not need liquor sold in every grocery store, around children, when families are there to buy their milk and cookies. We do not need Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, venerable bourbons that they are, put in front of us everywhere we go to do grocery shopping. Virginia is NOT for lovers, it's for Tobacco and Guns. Combine that with Alcohol and it gets even worse.

Increasing Venues for hard Alcohol from 332 to 1000 to pay back McDonnell’s Alcohol backers and give away Billions of guaranteed long term revenue for education and public safety while increasing drunkenness and bring down property values is wrong. In what world does a tripling liquor stores improve quality of life and real estate values? None that I know of.

Selling hard alcohol in front of children and young adults to fund roads and construction is wrong. Why throw Booze in front of people when they and their children are out shopping for necessities like milk and break. What is the benefit of this???

You raise taxes on Gasoline to fund roads and transportation. Better yet, raise the taxes on Assault weapon sales 1000% and stop the unlicensed, untaxed sales of weapons to in and out of state criminals. Virginia needs roads more than more Booze and Assault weapons.

Posted by: Airborne82 | February 4, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"does not need liquor sold in every grocery store, around children, when families are there to buy their milk and cookies."

Oh please. Monetarily the numbers don't make sense that is the main argument against the bill and the argument is sound.

Let's don't trot out the "think of the children" argument.

By your logic every kid who walks by a condom display or a shelf of playing cards in a drugstore is going to become a sex addict or compulsive gambler.

There are potentially far more dangerous things in the grocery store than a bottle of booze.

Posted by: BEEPEE | February 5, 2011 2:53 AM | Report abuse

That's our socialist Virginia. Maybe our government should take over grocery and clothing sales too.

I've never understood the "not within X feet of a school or house of worship" business. Alcohol doesn't radiate like cooties; kids are aware of its existence whether or not it happens to be sold in a store that they might walk by; and kids actually often go places that are within X feet of a school, so how does this keep them away from alcohol anyway?

Posted by: hmessinger2 | February 5, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The headline and first paragraph are effectively misleading and would let people infer that Virginia Senate Democrats inherently opposed privatization.

The reality is made explicit in the NEXT paragraph:

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

With the limited time that Virginia's legislature has to consider good, bad, stupid, and really REALLY stupid bills, it makes no sense, even for Virginia, to waste time on bills that are definitely not going anywhere.

Posted by: edallan | February 5, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

This whole idea was just one of many campaign pitches by Gov. Bob McHoly that even he didn't take seriously.

Posted by: jismquiff | February 5, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Who'da thunk the Mason-jar-out-of-the-car-trunk'ers had a stronger lobby than the big business fat cats? We've already got liquor stores at every wide spot in the road west of I-95, and no sales tax!

McConnell needs to focus on fixing roads and schools, raising gas and cigarette taxes and out-of-state tuition

Posted by: 21stCenturyCaveman | February 5, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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