Virginia General Assembly considers proposed ABC operational changes
ABC is currently a department of the Virginia state government and controls the possession, sale, transportation and delivery of alcoholic beverages within the state. The department also establishes and operates stores for the sale of distilled spirits.Most states regulate alcohol sales and distribution without taking on the risk and responsibility of selling it. It's a big business, and lucrative for those who decide what to buy from whom, especially when it is operated as a monopoly.
Both houses of the Virginia state legislature are considering bills which would allow the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control to operate outside of government authority. The proposed bill would change ABC board member selection processes. For example, commissioners will now require a business degree.
Del. Dave Albo said he would like to see ABC operating more like a business. “Government agencies have to follow certain procurement rules,” he said. “It’s really hard to run a [shelf] business when you can’t go out and buy shelves when you need them. Instead it takes six months to procure [products].”
Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, said the changes proposed in the bill would similarly allow ABC to operate like a business as opposed to a government agency. “We hope to enable ABC to do things a business would do to increase profits and have better customer service,” McDougle said. “[These changes] will enable ABC to be managed and operated more like a business instead of a strictly governmental entity.”
An independent authority could also more readily fire employees who are not performing up to standards, Albo said. “Government employees have more rights than regular employees, so it takes longer to fire under-performers,” he said.
“ABC is going to save a lot of money on procurement services,” Albo said. “They also won’t have to use the state computer system. We expect ABC to be able to raise more money by operating more efficiently, and then that money goes to the General Assembly fund.