State News

Legislative panel rolls out draft ABC bill

Posted April 8, 2010 6:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2010 6:49 p.m. EDT

— A panel of lawmakers examining North Carolina's liquor system doesn't sound interested in privatizing sales but wants to keep the current locally controlled system largely in place.

The Joint Study Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control discussed draft legislation on Thursday that would require poorly performing ABC stores to meet profitability or operating efficiency standards or face seizure by the state ABC Commission.

Some members questioned a proposal that would require no more than one local ABC board per county and force mergers in multi-board counties.

Few speakers at two public hearings by the committee supported privatization. The legislative committee is supposed to have recommendations next month.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has said she'd consider privatization and asked the state ABC board to appraise the system's value.

Lawmakers began looking at the ABC system after two highly publicized scandals.

A WRAL Investigates report found that the former administrator of the New Hanover County ABC system earned $232,000 a year, and his son was paid $115,000 as his assistant. Also, the Mecklenburg County ABC board had to reimburse a distiller $9,000 for a lavish holiday meal attended by ABC board members, staff and their families.