The next month will determine whether Maryland changes its shipping laws

A blog posting on The Wine Classroom about our press conference held Wednesday, February 3, 2010:

The next month will determine whether Maryland changes its shipping laws

By PAUL VIGNA, The Patriot-News

February 04, 2010, 8:51AM

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws held a press conference Wednesday in Annapolis to provide an update on the fight to change the laws in the state. The consumer advocacy group, which is pushing for the passage of direct wine shipping legislation, said that for the first time ever the bill has secured a majority of sponsors in both the House of Delegates and State Senate. "With 37 states representing 80-plus percent of the American population already enjoying this privilege, we think that it is time the Free State moves into the 21st century. Not only do our members and other Maryland consumers feel this way, but so do the legislators that represent them,” said organization executive director Adam Borden.

The bill would allow both wineries and retailers to ship up to 24 cases of wine to a Maryland resident per year and follows the protocols existing in other states for age verification and tax collection. There are roughly 6,500 wineries in the US. Only about 15 percent of these wineries can currently sell their product to Marylanders. Should the legislation become law, the organization estimates that the economic benefit to Maryland would be $1.5 million per fiscal year, largely from the collection of Maryland sales and excise taxes.

Without getting into too many details, Borden sounded resigned to a tough fight over the next month to get this legislation pushed through. He has become immersed in the goals of this organization for more than a year now, even bringing members to stand outside Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium and solicit signatures from fans heading in to see the Orioles and Ravens play. He said by phone Monday that this movement is farther along than it has ever been, with the bills for the first time drawing support from a majority of legislators in the House and Senate. But that, unfortunately for Borden and his group, isn’t quite enough.

“The chair of the House committee who is not from a particularly affluent part of Prince George’s County says that he hasn’t really heard from any of his constituents about this issue,” Borden said. “And as a result, he feels that this is an issue that isn’t going to go very far this year, despite the fact that a majority of his colleagues co-sponsored it.

That could keep the bill from ever coming up for discussion.

"The thing that really frustrates me is that people in position of power, they alternate betwen saying ‘I represent the interest of the state because I'm the chair of a committee that regulates an entire industry for the state of Maryland,’ and then they alternate between that and saying 'Well, I haven't heard from anyone in my district.' So which one is it? Do you represent the interest of Marylanders, in which case we've got over 15,000 of them and thousands of letters of support, or do you represent the people in your particular district regardless of whether they represent the entire rest of the state. And so that's really frustrating."

Wineries with Permits

Wineries Able to Ship to MD

Here is a link to the Comptroller's website. Search for "DW-Direct Wine Shippers Permit" under permit type.

Search for wineries


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