I am writing in response to the Community Voice article last week by Senator Ruff. As a retired furniture business owner, I give him credit for being a businessman, but he’s been a politician for 30 odd years, so I don’t give him high marks in economics or getting things done.

For someone from a small town in Virginia, he sure seems to have an axe to grind with California, having used most of his article lambasting the Golden State.

Of course, he took a swipe at the media in the process.

I think Mr. Ruff’s time would be better spent if he would look at some of the issues facing Virginia instead of taking pot shots at California.

He states that it is Virginia’s responsibility not to allow burdensome regulations and taxes to be a deterrent to business in Virginia. With this I agree, but the overburdensome regulations and taxes are killing craft distillery businesses in Virginia.

All Mr. Ruff has to do is talk to his colleague, 5th District Congressman Riggleman, and the local Springfield Distillery owners, and they will tell him that the ABC regulations and taxes make it almost impossible for an entrepreneur to survive as a distiller. Were it not for the likes of Denver Riggleman, craft distilleries would not exist in Virginia at all.

Add to that the same issues for wineries and brewers in Virginia, and Mr. Ruff has enough to keep him busy for the next few years, assuming he’s re-elected. Interestingly, Sen. Ruff voted no on SB 1110 that was passed to make all Virginia counties “wet,” unless the county holds a referendum to stay dry, and it passes.

I suspect that much of his disdain for California is the fact that it is a Blue state that seems to be doing very well, despite Mr. Ruff’s over-the-top claims.

California is ranked fourth as the best state economy, behind Washington, Utah and Massachusetts. Virginia is ranked 25th.

Minimum wage was a point of contention for Mr. Ruff that he says is causing employment problems. Virginia is one of 13 states that still has a $7.25 minimum wages. California is $12, as is Washington and Massachusetts, plus many other have minimum wages from $8.25 up to $12, with some going higher in coming years. Providing a living wage so that Virginia doesn’t have to spend my tax dollars on welfare seems smart to me.

So, here’s my challenge for Mr. Ruff.

First, end the burdensome regulations and taxes on craft distilleries. Then take Virginia out of the alcohol sales business and shut down the ABC system.

Virginia is one of seven states that owns ABC stores. Ten more control sales to the private retailers. The remaining 33 have removed themselves from the alcohol sales business and allow entrepreneurs, groceries chains and big box stores to operate in a competitive manner with strict rules and oversight.

It’s past time for Virginia to join the majority in privatizing the alcohol business.

But wait, that’s a little like sensible gun laws that Republicans won’t touch either, mostly because of lobby money lining their campaign coffers.

The middlemen in the wine and beer business will go to extreme ends to keep the Virginia ABC system putting mega-profits in their pockets, the same as they won’t dare enact sensible gun laws because of the NRA.

I end by saying this. Mr. Ruff, you should stay out of California or any other state’s politics and focus on your own state. Let’s address gun violence, homelessness, health care, drug abuse, clean energy and rural internet access.

And while you’re at it, fix the crippling regulations for craft distilleries.

Wayne Stanfield of Halifax is a retired USAF and Vietnam veteran and local businessman. He owned and operated multiple medical equipment and pharmacy businesses in Virginia and North Carolina and is the former director of non-profit trade associations. He is the author of many trade and opinion articles.