Monday, August 28, 2017

From the Archives: Delegate Dickie Bell is 'on the fence' with regard to ABC privatization

Delegate Dickie Bell is 'on the fence' with regard to ABC privatization
August 28, 2010 7:42 PM MST

When Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell hosted a town hall meeting on the topic of government reform in Harrisonburg last Thursday, several state legislators from the area were in the audience.

One was Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20), who represents a district that includes Highland County, parts of Augusta and Rockingham counties, and the city of Staunton. He spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about Governor McDonnell’s proposals to privatize ABC stores and the state government’s monopoly on liquor sales.

‘Not as committed’
“The governor is very committed to privatizing ABC stores,” Bell said. “At this point, I have to say, I’m not as committed.”

Dickie Bell Virginia politics ABC privatization liquor Harrisonburg
Bell explained, however, that he is “a big believer in private enterprise and in using our private enterprise structure when we can.

“In most cases,” he said, “it’s a better way to go than having government do some of the things that we can do commercially.”

With regard to ABC privatization, however, Bell said “there are some questions that I need to have answered before I can get on board and fully support it.” He noted that he had spoken to Governor McDonnell before the town hall meeting and “he understands my concerns, I think.”

Bell also pointed out that his “concerns are not unique. They’re the same concerns that a lot of people have at this point.”

‘Social impact’
He is primarily concerned “about the social impact” but also worries “that a lot of the smaller retailers in the [Shenandoah] Valley seem to think that this will squeeze them out and, instead of helping their business, will actually put a squeeze on them.

“If only the bigger, larger, the major retailers have this opportunity,” Bell suggested, “it’ll never trickle down to smaller guys.”

The motivation for this particular concern, he said, is because “I’m a strong advocate for small business. We have to level the playing field. If we’re going to privatize, we’ve got to make sure that every size business out there has the same opportunity.”

Bell said he is also concerned about the effects on Virginia’s “very clean system” of selling distilled spirits.

“There’s no way we can privatize and not increase sales and not increase alcohol consumptions,” he said.

‘Based on my feeling’
When asked, “Is that based on empirical data that you have?,” Bell paused briefly before replying:

“No, it’s based on my feeling” that competition and more stores and expanded distribution will result in “increased sales.”

Summarizing his thoughts on privatization, Bell said, “Mostly, I’m just concerned that we have a system now that’s not corrupt, it’s very clean, it’s very efficient, one of the most efficient things that the state of Virginia does. I’d hate for us to lose that.”

He concluded: “I would say that I’m on the fence right now,” and acknowledged that he needs to be convinced that privatization is the right thing to do.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 28, 2010. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

No comments: