The Washington Times:

Legislation to sell Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores and devote the proceeds to transportation won’t pass this session.

Sen. Mark Obenshain effectively withdrew his measure Tuesday to divest the state of its Alcoholic Beverage Control stores.

Mr. Obenshain, Harrisonburg Republican, said he did it so Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell could study the measure, which was a pillar of the transportation funding plan he advanced in his successful campaign last year.

Mr. Obenshain said the bill would await a special session on transportation, should Mr. McDonnell call one, or next year’s regular session.

Mr. McDonnell claimed that selling the state-owned liquor retailers would generate about $500 million for transportation, an estimate many experts question.

Thanks to Chris for bringing this hot off the press story to my attention.  I keep hearing that Virginia should not be in the business of selling liquor.  It was good enough for those Virginians coming off of Prohibition.  It was good enough for our parents, grandparents and great grandparents,  If those are Republican values, then keep them elsewhere.

Virginia has a long tradition of state run ABC stores, dating back to 1933.  The stores generate around millions of dollars a year, much of which is used for education, as well as other things.  It is a well-run organization and McDonnell has not come up with a plan to replace the profit revenue that would be lost.

Why this push?  I haven’t seen a lot of Republican tea-totalers.  Is this a push for the private liquor store industry?  McDonnell might want to rethink that maneuver.  Other states have had a great deal of trouble with additional crime.  Crime costs money and saps resources.

Good for the Democrats for defeating this idiotic plan, at least for this year.  Many of us will open our checkbooks to make sure it happens again next year also.

44 Thoughts to “VA ABC Stores safe, at least for this year”

  1. Richmond Times Dispatch:

    Committee chairmwoman Sen. Linda T. “Toddy” Puller, D-Fairfax, would not bring up the measures, repeating that she has no intention to consider the bills before the House acts. And, she noted, the chairman of the House committee with jurisdiction over the issue has said he will not take up the legislation.

    “I’ve made it perfectly clear from the very beginning that I would put those bills on the docket for this committee as soon as the House had dealt with the issue,” she said.

    “It’s never going to come up,” Puller said. “The committee chair is not docketing it over there. And therefore, I’m not docketing it over here.”

    Go Toddy Puller. Mary Washington ‘girl’, Marine widow, Chesty Puller’s daughter in law.

  2. Lafayette

    This makes want to run out to the local ABC Store and pick up something good to celebrate with. We’re just carryin’ on an Old Virginia tradition. 😉

  3. Darn right. I hear crickets.

    What is it that we southerners call people who come south and try to change our traditions?

  4. Lafayette

    CARPETBAGGERS!!!! Please, don’t make start naming names. 🙂

    From the open thread.

    Lafayette February 4th, 2011 at 13:08 | #15 Reply | Quote Bwahahaha!!! LOVE IT..looks like our ABC Stores will stay state stores for now. Glad to know this Virginia tradition will continue on. Sorry to the *carpetbaggers* in the Commonwealth that were hoping for the privatization of our ABC Stores.

  5. Lafayette

    *make ME…..

  6. Just wanted to see the words over here. Apparently lots of folks are pouting over this stall.

    Also, most of the oppressive anti abortion bills got cratered yesterday.

  7. Emma

    The big NoVa lie: “We’re going to use the money for transportation!”

    Not with my corn squeezins’, you won’t.

  8. Juturna

    Mental Health agencies receive funding from ABC Store revenues. That’s one area that could use continue funding and a little re-engineering. I think the proposed sale of the stores wouldn’t paint 10 miles of road.

    According to the ABC website: “As a major source of revenue for the Commonwealth, ABC has contributed more than $1.5 billion to Virginia’s General Fund in the last five years, and more than $6 billion to the General Fund since the first ABC stores opened in 1934.”

    According to Gov McDonnell:”He contends that the state could reap an upfront windfall of $300 million two $800 million that could go to fixing roads.”

    What was the plan to replace the annual revenue that was lost??

  9. @Juturna, I am not even sure. I kept reading these half baked plans to replace the annual revenue but none of them made sense to me. It was like turning water into wine, or perhaps the opposite.

    Mental health funding is way down this year. Apparently no one remembers VA Tech.

    I guess I am just old fashioned. I like the VA booze system. To change it would be to rattle my bearings and roots. In fact, every time I think of things changing I get offended on behalf of my 4’10” grandmother who went to the liquor store in Staunton and ordered a 4th of 5 Roses. She was never allowed to forget it…not for the next 40 years she went in that Staunton liquor store.

  10. Lafayette

    Emma-Big Lie!! Sounds like it could be an HBO series. 🙂

    Mental Health issues don’t seem to be of much concern to our politicians. I also, read something about them wanting to cut money for the youth in our state with mental health issues.

    We are native Virginians and I think that’s why we feel so strongly about the privatization of the ABC stores. We aren’t going to find many around here that feel the way we do about this issue. I think Emma & Juturna are the exception.

    I was told by a Virginian born in Georgetown that I was sounding like a Texan with my comments about Virginia. I told them they were not a native to the Commonwealth and wouldn’t see things the way I do. Not to mention my family has been in Virginia for generations. The Georgetown baby living in Virginia is not a native in my eyes. They think that my view is horrible. Oh well, TFB!! The first native born Virginian in that family didn’t come until 1989.

  11. Why does that person think you have a crappy attitude, Lafayette? The transplant in my house agrees with us. But he is a naturalized Virginian.

  12. Actually, my mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware but she was very much a native Virginian. Her father had a job briefly in that city. So, she was born there. No one was more of a Virginian than she was. And her people were all from here. I think she resented not being born here. I told her it didn’t matter.

  13. Lafayette

    I think they are just jealous that they too are not a native. Their mom could have gone to Alexandria or Fauquier to have them. But no DC seemed to place for those Fairfax residents. Oh well. I do believe this person is a Virginian, but not like your grandmother. Their family migrated here from Boston just a couple of years before they were born.

  14. Lafayette

    The transplant in my house LOVES the privatization of ABC stores. We’ve had many heated discussions on the issue. There’s no compromising on this issue here. We can’t even agree to disagree on this one. That’s too easy. I keep pushing my view, but to no avail.

  15. kelly3406

    I would hardly call a tradition dating back to 1933 as all that historic. “Old Virginia” was basically a relic of the past by that time. Nobody cares how our mothers and grandmothers did things. Our mothers and grandmothers probably would not support gays in the military, but that fact is overlooked when progressives want to institute changes.

    Regardless of how much money is lost, I am almost always for privatizing a government function if that function is not constitutionally mandated. Raising money for the state is not a good enough reason for the state to perform a function that can be done by the private sector.

  16. Juturna

    As long as there is a plan in place to replace or address the revenue loss. $1.5B over five years is nothing to ‘oversimplify”.

  17. Raymond Beverage


    I too salute Toddy Puller. Growing up a Marine Brat, I once asked my Mother who do we worship more in the house – God or Chesty Puller. Needless to say, that crack cost me…LOL!

  18. marinm

    Next election cycle we can see how the voters of Virginia feel about this.

  19. Lafayette

    Kelly, I guess you won’t mind when the crime goes up with privatization of ABC. Furthermore, my grandmother was 91 when she passed last summer and she was NO fan what so ever of this yankee way of liquor sales. ABC Stores are the Virginia tradition since prohibition. Nobody said it was centuries old.You can take your ass to Franklin county and buy those boys private spirits.

    I’m not a progressive. My guess is you are probably a carpetbagger yourserself. Nice to know you think the state can easily afford to give up on this money.

    Marin, I think something like privatizing the ABC should be put on the ballot for voters decide and not the politicians in Richmond. They only care about thier agenda, and could careless what their constituents wantl. Well, that’s of course unless you cater to one little voting bloc that claims to much more than they really are.

  20. marinm

    @Lafayette, I would be for that.. Allow the voters to decide by direct referendum. 🙂

    Virginia did the same with the same-sex marriage issue.

  21. I want to know how the 1.5 billion dollars over 5 years is going to be replaced. That mystery has not been solved.

    I am not sure I am up for a referendum but I would take that over some gang of R’s trying to appeal to their base. I wouldn’t even care as much if I didn’t see so much drinking and then high horse mounting. Its all an agenda to field the liquor sales to someone’s buddies.

  22. Kelly3406

    Lafeyette: I am from a state farther south than Virginia, so watch whom you call a carpetbagger. And you may not be a progressive overall, but it is a progressive talking point that government control of an enterprise should be maintained for the sake of government revenue. The argument about rising crime rates is surely a myth – it seems unlikely that crime rates are higher in states with privatized liquor sales than those with ABC stores.

  23. Kelly, are you just trying to be rude? I care how my mother and grandmother did things and since its my blog, I will discuss them.

    I guess I am as qualified to discuss old Virginia as much as anyone on this blog. If I chose to do it, I would easily become a member of UDC or DAR. Old South. Old Virginia.

    In a country that is only 222 years old, 78 years is a pretty healthy chunk of time. About 35%. It is Virginia tradition to have state stores.

    More importantly, since you are obviously not a native Virginia and have little concern for our traditions, how do you propose to replace the millions of dollars taken in annually?

    I expect Lafayette isn’t finished with this issue.

    Marin, you mistakenly think that old Virginia is Republican. I wouldn’t make any bets on that. You are banking on a midterm election being an indicator of things to come. I wouldn’t do that. Midterm election losses are historic.

  24. The crime increase is not a myth. Not at all, and that goes for minor and major crime.

    How long do drunks hang around outside of the ABC store? About as long as it takes to call the cops. Can we make the same claim about DC or MD?

  25. Juturna

    Nothing could be much higher than the Richmond crime rate. Well, maybe…SOMEWHERE

    Despite the tradition that’s been mentioned – what was the plan to replace or cut the $1.5B over five years? Never mentioned just the ‘benefits’ of privatization.

    Privatization doesn’t alway work, Kelly, ask Fairfax County schools – they privatized school bus services – failed massively. Kids were not delivered to the right place, they didn’t think to start buses early in the cold weather (a cost savings I’m sure) so school openings were delayed, maintenance was ‘as needed’ resulting in many bus breakdowns and stranded kids…..

    The difference between government and private business are the goals – service and profit. Profit and service as a combination don’t always work well.

    Indianapolis,on the other hand, is a stellar example of privatization with their sanitation services. Privatization must be strategic not just thrown out as always the best solution. Of course with privatization it must well planned and lost revenue resolved BEFORE making it a campaign promise. What the revenue currently supports should also be evaluated. Elected reductions from revenue loss require General Assembly action. Directed revenue reductions may result in unintended consequences such as in this case. No one in their right mind would recommend a fourth or fifth year in cuts to Mental Health in VA. PWC alone has had two school shootings and VA Tech……. That’s a pretty high statistic for one state.

  26. Lafayette

    Kelly, Kelly, Kelly!!!
    I did NOT call you a carpetbagger. This is what I said “My guess is you are probably a carpetbagger yourself.” That is NOT calling you one, that was merely my guess by your posts. Sounds, like a hit a nerve there, girl. Crime rate a myth..Riiiight!! Take a look at our friends across the Potomac and check out their crime rates in DC and the Free State of Maryland. The government is not always bad. The system is not broken! So why try to fix it?

    I guess for those that like to get themselves liquored up a regularly basis they want cheap spirits. I buy liquor once a year, so I don’t mind the cost. Furthermore, I can tell you in private liquor stores of WVa. and Delaware my choice of whiskey costs $5-$10 more a liter in those two states. Cheap is not always better, and there’s no promise that spirits will cost less with privatization.

    I hope you read what Juturna had to say about the private buses in Fairfax county. That was an epic failure. Maryland and DC go this route with bussing their kids. There are kids that get left on buses, dropped off at wrong place, etc..This is all over the news at the beginning of any given school year in these two jurisdictions. You might not be a native of the Commonwealth and could care less about us turning into DC or MD, but I sure do.
    I am one relentless bitch when it comes to this topic. BTW-just talked to another native of Va. and they in NO way favor privatization. Again, I believe we the voters should vote on this topic. Politicians have their own agenda they want and that is NOT always what the majority wants. Now, if the majority of our citizens voted for privatization, I’d be fine with that. But I’m not one bit fine with politicians pushing their personal agendas.

  27. I want to hear a well-thought out plan to replace the millions of dollars that will be lost in profit. So far, there has not been anything convincing. Until that happens, we can’t afford to break tradition.

    Maybe it might be easier to just change the UVA song, or rename the Hokies.

  28. Kelly3406

    MH: I did mean to sound rude. I am very interested in how previous generations lived and made decisions. My point is that their viewpoints are all that relevant in this context to anyone except their own kids/grandkids Their preferences are unlikely to sway anyone in this debate.

    My parents and grandparents are natives of Virginia.

    Lafayette: You did hit a nerve. Despite living in many regions of the US and world during my military career, I am still very proud of my southern heritage. However, my friends tell me I no longer sound like I am from the South.

    It has been my experience that privatized liquor stores work very well in other parts of the country. There is no reason to suppose that it would not work in VA. As for busing in Fairfax, the states are required to provide education. So busing is one of those things that could go either way. Not sure why busing was a failure in Fairfax, but it could have been a symptom of a poorly conceived contract.

    I too agree with letting voters choose between ABC stores and private ownership.

    Finally, Lafeyette, I am a guy. My family would be very disappointed to find out otherwise after all these years.

  29. Kelly3406

    Poor editing in the previous post: I did NOT mean to sound rude and … their viewpoints are NOT all that relevant in this context …

  30. Lafayette

    Sorry for calling you a girl. I just ASSumed. 🙂 I’ve only met one male Kelly in my life and they spelled their name Kelley. I should remember too, many here use monikers.

    I really have not a lot of experience with privatized stores. I do know when I worked downtown(DC), I was frequently picking up spirits for my co-workers in Va..

    Well, I’m truly glad that we can agree on this should be put to the voters. However, I seriously doubt that will happen.

  31. @Kelly,

    My parents and grandparents are part of me forming my preferences on this matter. Also the history of the ABC store is important to me. However, you are right that it has no bearing on what happens on the state level.

    No one has answered where the money will come from to make up the $250 million or so dollars. That is probably my bottom line.

    People who have lived in DC and Maryland will tell you that private liquor stores bring an undesirable element into neighborhoods. Panhandling, DIP, underage drinking are all petty crimes that can become real nuisances. I don’t know the stats on other types of crime.

    I just see no reason to change anything. Who cares if the state sells booze. BFD. They sell lottery tickets also.

  32. Kelly, what is your native state, if you care to tell?

  33. Kelly3406

    I have sent an email to you, MH.

  34. I wrote a piece on here about Maine and their experience with state owned “Green Front Stores” but I must have goofed it up somewhere along the way. Maine sold off their stores in 2004 I believe and then contracted with Maine Beverage Company that is the sole wholesale distributor for alcohol. I don’t know what the states “cut” is and I don’t know if it amounts to as much as they made from the stores. Of course, the state controls the licensing of all stores that sell alcohol–over 500 stores including grocery stores and stand alone liquor stores. So maybe we should find out how Maine made out. Whadda ya think?

    And I absolutely disagree with Kelley 3406 that stuff dating back to 1933 is not historic. I was born in 1933 and I consider that “historic”! 😎

  35. So tell me, George, do you want to keep the stores as state controled ABC stores or privatize them?

  36. George S. Harris

    If I could drive 3 miles to the local Blooms and buy my booze instead of 6 or 7 miles to the ABC store, I would be happy. When I am in the area, I buy my stuff at a Navy exchange for much less than I pay for it in the state store and I used to buy in DC for less than the state stores. This should tell you that state store prices are terribly inflated since they are the only authorized booze sellers in the Commonwealth. If you don’t believe me, check the Monday WaPo adds for booze. My “everyday” scotch is “Grant’s”–about $22 in DC and $35 or so in state stores. If I buy inthe Navy exchange, I don’t pay the sales tax but must pay sales tax in DC but stilla better deal than state stores.

    I think Maine’s system may be a good one–have the state partner for the distribution of alcohol and do the licensing and inspecting. As long as income does not drop what difference does it make?

  37. Pat.Herve

    during the campaign there was no plan for the privatizing of ABC, just a campaign slogan. But when the rubber meets the road, they have to come up with a plan – the last plan that I saw would privatize the stores, but the distribution and pricing would still be controlled by the state – is this really privatizing ABC? Do we really want a 7-11 to be selling Jack Daniel’s or Bacardi? I do not – it will make access to hard liquor easier to kids.

    Selling ABC to fix the roads – well, there just is not enough money in ABC to fix the roads – so McDonnell wants to borrow the money to fix the roads. Why is borrowing money, and sticking the bill to the next administration ok?

    the revenue stream must be protected, as we are dependent on it – how do you replace the revenue stream – lets sells the stores and raise taxes.

  38. George S. Harris

    What is the difference between the 7-11 selling beer and wine and selling Jack, Bicardi, Jose or whatever? If people want to get booze, they’re gonna get booze. Straw buyers are nothing new for booze or guns. As I have suggested, we should be looking at how other states have handled this. I think Maine has a pretty good system or so it seems. There is nothing magic about the state owned stores.

    I concur about the governor’s plan for roads–has decided it is easier to mortgage the future than face reality.

  39. I want my BREW THRU! Drive through convenience stores! Woohoo! Don’t even have to get out of the car to buy your beer!

    And ABC stores have drunks near them too. I used to pick up the money from them when I worked for Brinks. And most of them had drunks near them. And that crime? Check the crime maps for Richmond. Most shootings are within a mile of an ABC store. However, one can’t compare crime rates between Va, DC, and MD. Baltimore throws MD’s rate way off, DC is horrible. Even the gun crime in DC is higher and you can’t own one there. But across a mile wide river, Fairfax and Arlingtion are basically peaceful…..I guess crooks don’t drive.

  40. “I used to pick up the money from them when I worked for Brinks.”

    Just realized how that looked……from the ABC stores, NOT from the drunks….. 🙂

    1. @Cargo, pan-handling the drunks, eh?

  41. George S. Harris

    Well the governor’s plan for the ABC stores is dead for another year. So all of you who enjoy paying inflated prices for booze should celebrate by going out and buying some overpriced boozed at your local Commonwealth ABC store. Or you could drive up to DC and pay WAAAAYYY less. If you are military, try a Navy Exchange package store and pay WAAAAYYY les and no tax.

  42. George S. Harris

    I should say Navy Exchange in the Washington DC area–take the booze ad from the WaPo and PX will match price or often PX price is better and then you can get a case discount.

  43. Rusty

    @George S. Harris
    Grants is not $35 in VA. It is very close to, if not at, $22.

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