(MOBILE, Ala.) - An Alabama lawmaker wants to do away with ABC stores in the state.
Senator Arthur Orr from Decatur says he'll propose a bill in the upcoming legislative session to privatize the retail function of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Local 15 talked to liquor store owners in Mobile who feel there's both good and bad to the proposal.
"The fundamental issue we need to address as a state is, does the state belong in the retail liquor business in the 21st century? Should we be out there selling alcohol competing with the private sector?" questioned Senator Orr.
The owner of Maddog's Party Stop says absolutely not.
David Maddox believes state run retail stores take business away from the little guys.
"They are so much cheaper. I have to buy it from the ABC at the same price you would walk in and buy it off the shelf. Then, I have to put a mark up and most people don't understand that," said Maddox.
Orr is working on a bill that would close ABC stores.
He says it could save the state around $46 million.
"I think it would be a good thing. And it would be beneficial for the local jurisdiction like the City of Mobile and county because right now when people go into ABC stores, the city and county aren't getting any taxes from that," said Maddox.
But ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson says the current system employs hundreds of people and brings in $1.5 billion for Alabama annually.
"We've done it for the past 75 years. We've honed it to an art and probably are one of the most efficient agencies in the state. You have to be, it's a business. We operate on our own profit and we don't get a penny worth of tax money to operate on," said Gipson.
Under Orr's plan, the state would continue it's wholesale operation that distributes liquor to stores.
"It would be better if they did away with all of it. Then, we would have liquor wholesale distributors where they come in and make the deals with each individual store. It makes every store have competitive pricing," said Maddox.
The bill would also allow the state to decide how many retail stores are in each town and set up a competitive bidding process.
This doesn't sit well with local store owners.
"Now we're going to have to bid to keep our license? So if we lose it, what, do we lose our store?" Maddox questioned.
There isn't a bill filed yet for lawmakers to consider. Similar proposals died in the legislature in the 1980's.