Wine Shipment Bill Has Support From Majority of Maryland Lawmakers
By Ann E. Marimow
Maryland wine lovers may soon rejoice. Legislation that would allow state residents to order bottles of their favorite pinot noir and chardonnay directly to their homes this year has broad bipartisan support from a majority of lawmakers, including some powerful names, in the House and Senate.
Maryland would join 37 other states and the District in allowing direct wine shipment from vineyards. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) and Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George's), has the backing of 32 of 47 senators and 83 of 141 delegates. Among the co-sponsors are House Speaker Michael Busch and Del. Dereck Davis (D-Prince George's), who chairs the Economic Matters Committee.
But a key component of the bill will likely face stiff opposition from the powerful alcohol industry. As written, the measure would allow consumers to buy wine directly from out-of-state retailers.
Anticipating such opposition, Davis said last week, "I'm going to do what I can to forge a consensus." A compromise bill, for instance, could allow direct shipment from wineries - but not from out-of-state retailers.
A report issued by Comptroller Peter Franchot in December looked at the practice in other states and found that direct shipment from out-of-state retailers "would have a negative effect on 'in-state licensees,' because purchases from retailers are primarily motivated by 'price.'"