Senator Proposes Privatization of ABC Beverages Stores

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(WHNT) - State legislators are looking at every possible way to cut state spending, and getting the state out of the alcohol retail business is one solution Senator Arthur Orr is bringing to the table this year.

"I think there are several large questions. Number one, should the state be in the retail liquor business in the 21st century? Is this truly a function of state government?" said Orr.

Orr says the savings the state could incur is also a motivating factor. He says privatizing the ABC Beverage stores would save the state anywhere from $25 to $45 million.

"ABC does contribute several million dollars to the budget as it is today. However, if you do not have the labor costs and leases, if you did not have the insurance, utilities, transportation - if all those costs go away, that’s where we find our true savings," said Orr.

Under his plan the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would continue to distribute liquor and enforce liquor laws.

Orr says the bill also contains provisions to help the retail store’s 600 employees find work if the state gets out of the liquor business. The provisions would provide opportunities for ABC employees to either be transferred to other government jobs, or have preference with regard to the private sector licenses that would replace the state-run stores.

In the past similar legislation has failed, but Orr says now is the time to prioritize state spending.

WHNT News 19 has also heard concerns there may be a conflict of interest since Arthur Orr's brother owned the Bud's Convenience Store chain. Orr tells us, and we have confirmed his family sold the chain last year.

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