Tuesday, August 08, 2017

From the Archives: Interview with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on ABC privatization - Part 1

Examiner.com exclusive: Interview with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on ABC privatization - Part 1
August 8, 2010 2:34 AM MST

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell proposed during his 2009 election campaign that the Commonwealth should end the government’s monopoly on the wholesale and retail sales of distilled spirits, with the intention of raising millions of dollars that would be applied to transportation needs.

Bob McDonnell Virginia governor ABC privatization liquor law
While this proposal was not acted upon during the 2010 session of the General Assembly, this summer the governor began floating ideas about how privatization of the ABC system could be implemented. McDonnell sees privatizing liquor sales as part of a broad-based government reform program.

Town Hall Meetings
McDonnell hosted the first of eight town hall meetings on government reform in Roanoke on August 4. Prior to the meeting, McDonnell sat down with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner for a one-on-one, exclusive interview on the topic of ABC privatization.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell liquor law ABC privatization
Bob McDonnell
The first question posed to McDonnell referred to the fact that other so-called “control” states – states where liquor, and sometimes beer and wine as well, is sold through state-owned stores and wholesale operations – are considering a transition to a free market system. These include Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Washington.

What has the McDonnell administration learned from government leaders from these other states?

“Our team has been working for four or five months,” McDonnell said, “talking to legislators, talking to people in the industry, looking at the best practices from other states, to try to find out what’s the best model for us to use in Virginia.”

Citing the historical context, McDonnell noted that “since Prohibition was repealed almost 80 years ago, 32 states have adopted a private system of distribution of alcohol. Only 18 states,” he said, including Virginia, are left with the control system.

Learning ‘what’s right for Virginia’
He said specifically that while “we’ve got some things we’ve learned about from other states,” he has “not talked to other governors,” instead looking at other states’ “experience and trying to find what’s right for Virginia.”

Returning to his theme about general government reform, McDonnell insisted that ABC privatization “is one of hundreds of issues that we hope to address in a government reform special session” of the General Assembly.

The ABC question, he admitted, “is one that’s got a little bit more of a profile because it’s a fairly significant, systematic change we think will generate maybe half a billion dollars for transportation, which is something we need.”

‘A win-win’
Moreover, he added, “it’s getting the government out of the business of alcohol distribution, which I don’t think it needs to be in. We’ve [sold] beer and wine [privately] for 70 years; we can certainly do distilled spirits” in the same way.

McDonnell argued that privatization is “a win-win,” because it gets “the private sector making economies of scale and, I think, it’s the right thing to do.”

Governor McDonnell’s interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner will be continued in Part 2. See the attached video for a complete recording of the conversation.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 8, 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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