Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell, has been getting a lot of news coverage lately over his push to privatize ABC stores statewide:  RTD from 9/3/10, NBC12 from 8/19/10, from 8/26/10, Style Weekly from 6/29/10.

This proposal still has a ways to go and many levels of bureaucracy to push through before it becomes reality, but McDonnell ‘s senior staff members have been studying the issue to make recommendations.  Here are their official findings (the full version), which were released today.  You can find the presentations that were made through this link. (although it doesn’t look like it will stay the top story but for so long)

I pulled out a number of points from the press release that I found to be the most intriguing:

  • 1,000 retail licenses will be auctioned off to the highest bidders
  • The licenses will be broken into three categories: 600 licenses for large establishments such as grocery stores; 150 for smaller establishments such as package stores and wine and beer shops; 250 for convenience stores/retail pharmacies
  • No one company will be allowed more than 25% of licenses within each level
  • 1,000 licenses will still give Virginia 1.8 outlets per 10,000 adults, far below the private state average of 3.8 per 10,000 adults
  • Majority of new license holders will be existing stores; Virginians will primarily see new shelves in retail establishments, not new establishments.
  • 332 licenses will be guaranteed for areas currently served by an existing ABC outlet
  • The additional 668 licenses will be granted based on population density
  • The wholesale side will also be privatized, allowing the Commonwealth to completely focus on law enforcement and regulation of distilled spirits
  • There is no tax increase in the privatization proposal
  • The Commonwealth will also make an additional $33 million on the sale of the ABC warehouse in Richmond and 19 state owned outlets
  • The number of ABC enforcement agents will be increased by 25%
  • The Commonwealth, through the ABC board, will maintain health, safety, law enforcement and marketing regulatory authority over private distilled spirit sales and distribution

Also, the point that has been making the most buzz lately is the idea of a 4% tax on the gross liquor receipts for restaurant operators.  That seems to have been taken out of the recommendations (given the 9th bullet point listed above), unless it’s a matter of semantics and they’ve buried it by not calling it a tax.  I didn’t have time to go through, but I’m sure there will be lots of other people combing through the details of this proposal word for word.

Another point that is of particular interest to me is the sale of the ABC main warehouse.  I wonder who will be listing that? *ahem* Mr. Governor, I’d be happy to take a look at it for you!