One recurring issue before the Alabama Legislature is whether the state of Alabama should be in the liquor business and operate so-called "state stores."

And it almost certainly will resurface this year. In Alabama, the state does all that it can to discourage alcohol consumption. After all, the name of the agency that regulates alcohol sales here is the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. Alabama is one of 18 states which allow the purchase of packaged spirits from state-operated liquor stores 

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) has been among those pushing privatization legislation.

“Is that really a mission of state government,” he asked a committee one year.

However, the legislation did not even make it out of committee to be considered by the full Senate last year. One mountain Orr faces is the fact that the proposal would close 175 stores and eliminate about 600 jobs. The vast majority of those buildings are leased — many of them for lengthy terms. The state would face the issue of paying rents on shuttered buildings — which would not be very popular or frugal.

Privatization proponents claim that ultimately more revenue would be produced through private retail sales, although studies are unclear on the revenue issue. 

Of course, the state already licenses a number of private stores to sell spirits, but they have to buy wholesale from the state after mark-up so it is difficult for them to stay in business since they have to charge higher prices than state stores.

Personally, I do not like the idea of private sales, but for a different reason than most. 

In New Orleans and cities where it seems like there is a liquor store on every corner, it also seems like a liquor store is robbed every night by a gun-wielding criminal, who can take money and liquor in one stop.

I think we have enough violent crime without giving lawbreakers  additional opportunities.

Retired Auburn attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Email him your comments about the newspaper to doneddins@auburnlaw.us.

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