Alcoholic beverage control; privatization of ABC stores, report. (HB421)

Introduced By

Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Alcoholic beverage control (ABC); privatization of ABC stores. Provides for the issuance of a "package store" license to authorize the retail sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption. The bill also requires the ABC Board to sell at auction all real estate used as ABC stores, and to terminate leased property upon which the ABC Board has operated a government store. The bill requires the ABC Board to complete an implementation study by December 31, 2008, on how it will privatize government stores. The bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2009, to achieve full retail privatization of government stores. The bill contains numerous technical amendments. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/04/2008Prefiled and ordered printed with emergency clause; offered 01/10/07 082335616
01/04/2008Referred to Committee on General Laws
02/12/2008Left in General Laws


Elwood Earl Sanders Jr. writes:

I agree! Get the state out of the booze business (and while you are at it the lottery too!)

Sandy Sanders

Waldo Jaquith writes:

This is long overdue. I'm convinced that the courts will break up the ABC and force them to sell their stores anyway, so better to do this under our own terms, rather than selling 'em off at fire sale prices.

Jeremy Beales writes:

I'd definitely agree that this is a good idea, but the bill doesn't go nearly far enough. Even though it would privatize the ABC stores, if I am reading it correctly it would not allow "package store licenses" to be given unless the local ABC store couldn't be transferred to a private owner at market price. This seems that regular grocery stores and convenience stores couldn't get liquor licenses unless there wasn't a high enough bidder for the local store.

Furthermore, the bill doesn't actually get the ABC our of the booze business, just converts it to a wholesaler. Private stores would be forbidden from buying booze anywhere else and the ABC would maintain full control over all the booze, including brands and types of liquor, that is sold in the state.

If we are going to do this then we should go all out and really get the state out of the booze business. Allow anyone who wants one (and meets the legal requirements) to get a package store license and buy their booze from anyone they want. This is a seeming privatization that wouldn't actually get the state out of the business.

robert legge writes:

I don't want to see this bill pass. It would create a situation where a seller of booze had a vested interest in selling to a minor. Frankly I think we should be discouraging alcohol consumption. That doesn't mean make it illegal. Our county has an ABC store that generate $7k in revs for the county. Wonder how much it costs in social service and law enforcement costs.

Tim McCormack writes:

@robert legge: How does this bill encourage selling to minors?

Buddy writes:

TM: There is somewhat of a safeguard against underage sales by keeping liquor sales under government control. ABC offers employees good government benefits, and attracts more of a career oriented employee than some private retailers. Therefore, the ABC employees are more likely to be by the book. Also, in private retail, the person ringing up the sale may be under pressure (real or perceived) to make sales, and avoid offending customers by demanding and scrutinizing IDs. When you work for the government, these concerns are nearly insignificant.

Tim McCormack writes:

@Buddy: Thanks! That helps me understand Robert's concern. I'm still not sure I agree, but at least I understand now. :-)

Waldo Jaquith writes:

That's a really interesting point. I've known a handful of people working for an ABC in Charlottesville, and you're not far off the mark, Bubby. I don't think that's a sufficiently compelling reason to keep the ABCs state run, but I think it's an important consideration.

Jeremy Beales writes:

I don't know that the type of people working at an ABC makes that big a difference in terms of incentive to sell. Bars in Virginia do a pretty good job keeping minors out, with no incentive to other than the fines and forced closures that are imposed by ABC for violations. The new package stores would surely be very heavily regulated by ABC and inspected frequently. The penalties imposed on stores for selling alcohol to minors are stiff and would probably be stiffer for actual liquor than for softer drinks. I don't think sale to minors would be that big a problem.

Kevin Jones writes:

I work for ABC and of all of the incidents of someone selling to a minor that I know of, managers were the ones who sold it to them. I'm going on 5 years at the ABC now and I have never heard of a clerk selling to a minor. Just to let you know, the police send in kids for the sting that look like they are 13 years old, so it shouldn't be a problem. So benefits and higher pay doesn't seem to do anything when it comes to preventing underage drinking.

The problem with the ABC is that they are inefficient and a lot of time they just don't care. In my area there are managers who don't want to order certain brands for licensees or customers. How is that fair to the consumer? Jeremy is right in that we need the state completely out of the liquor business, but baby steps may be a good start.