Tuesday, August 29, 2017

From the Archives: Delegate Steve Landes is 'keeping an open mind' on Governor McDonnell's ABC privatization plan

Delegate Steve Landes is 'keeping an open mind' on Governor McDonnell's ABC privatization plan
August 29, 2010 12:08 PM MST

liquor law Steve Landes ABC privatization Bob McDonnell Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to privatize Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores “has some possibilities,” said Delegate Steve Landes (R-25) after a town-hall meeting on government reform in Harrisonburg on August 26.

Landes, whose district includes parts of Albemarle, Augusta, and Rockingham counties, as well as the city of Waynesboro, added that “at this point” he is “keeping an open mind.” He wants to talk to his constituents to find out what they like and don’t like about the plan.

Delegate Landes spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on the campus of James Madison University as the crowd dispersed from the governor's town hall. State Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Dickie Bell were also interviewed that night.

‘Public safety concerns’
The governor, he said, had “addressed a lot of the public safety concerns” but as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, one of his main concerns is “how is the revenue going to work, where would that go, how are we going to offset what could be a reduction” in the money the state takes in from liquor sales. Landes also expressed concern about what would happen to the portion of ABC profits that goes to local governments.

Asked if he has a sense of what his colleagues in the legislature are thinking about ABC privatization, Landes replied:

“Most of the people I’ve talked to are just like I am, trying to get information, trying to find out what the proposals are, [and] what the governor may be proposing.”

Once the government releases “his formal proposal,” Landes said, “we’ll all be looking at that.”

‘Devil’s in the details’
As a member of the General Assembly for the last 16 years, Landes explained, he has “found that the devil’s always in the details, so you need to see the bill, you need to see what it says, and where the dollars are going to go, how the franchise sales would be, who would be eligible, whether you’re talking about small business people or just larger corporations, chain stores, and the like. All those details would have to be looked at before I could say whether I’m in favor or against it.”

Regarding the question of whether privatization of the ABC system is a “matter of principle,” Landes pointed to his support of the private sector and free enterprise over the years, adding that “there is a good argument from the standpoint of, ‘we don’t control beer and wine [so] why is the state in the business of’” selling distilled spirits?

Noting the current economic climate, Landes went on, “If the economy was really good, it would be an easier decision for me, because we’re not looking at what the revenue picture is, where the dollars are coming from, where they’re going to go.”

The issue would be easier for him to decide, he said, because as a member of the Appropriations Committee, “I think you have to look at making sure that the dollars are going to match up and that projections would be there to offset what the state might lose from the standpoint of sales and what we might obtain from the standpoint of tax revenue.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 29, 2010. The Examiner.com 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 Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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