Wine shipping bill is all bottled up
The Baltimore Sun posted the article below concerning the direct wine shipping bill hearing and the fact that Del. Dereck E. Davis "sounded skeptical about the measure's prospects after hearing from both sides Friday":
Wine shipping bill is all bottled up
Prospects for an end to state ban appear to be dim
By Julie Bykowicz | email@example.com
March 6, 2010
As it turns out, 2010 probably won't be the vintage year for
Marylanders who want to buy wine over the Internet or receive
deliveries from Napa Valley.
head of a key Annapolis committee said Friday that it "will be a
challenge" for his panel to endorse an end to a ban on direct wine
shipments. Wine-lovers and state wineries have been pushing to overturn
the prohibition for years but have been blocked by the state's powerful
liquor lobby and lawmakers sympathetic to the industry.
Dereck E. Davis, a Prince George's County Democrat and head of the
House Economic Matters Committee, sounded skeptical about the measure's
prospects after hearing from both sides Friday. He becomes the second
committee chairman to offer a bleak assessment of the proposal: Sen.
Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat whose health committee is
considering the legislation, opposes lifting the ban.
incurring the wrath of consumers and businesses for standing in the way
of mail shipments, Conway is backing another measure that would allow
local vineyards to expand their tastings and food service, as well as
sell bottles at farmers' markets. The Maryland Winery Modernization Act
would also allow the state's 41 licensed wineries to share resources
such as bottling and processing.
Conway is the lead sponsor of
the measure, which has the backing of 43 of 47 senators. She has
described the proposal as a "compromise."
Maryland is one of 13
states that ban direct shipping of wine, limiting residents' access to
varieties that local stores don't stock or, some argue, prompting some
residents to break the law by having cases shipped to other states and
transporting them home or just having unmarked packages of wine
delivered to their doors.
The movement to legalize wine shipping
has grown to more than 20,000 supporters, according to Marylanders for
Better Beer and Wine Laws, an advocacy organization. Dozens of social
media and e-mail groups have sprung up. A majority of senators on
Conway's committee have endorsed the measure.
Leaders of the movement have intensely lobbied lawmakers - some say too intensely.
Donna Stifler, a Harford County Republican, complained Friday that Adam
Borden, until this week the director of the Maryland wine laws group,
had called her mother to enlist the delegate's support. Conway also
criticized a fiery exchange last month with Borden, calling him
offensive. He resigned Friday, saying he didn't want his style to hurt
But supporters haven't convinced Conway or, it appears, a majority of the House economic committee.
a lot of fear," said Paul Hoffstein, an Annapolis resident and new
president of the Maryland wine laws group. "There's just no other
The liquor lobby says it opposes direct shipping
because of danger that underage drinkers will purchase wine through the
Internet and because Maryland liquor stores could lose money.
say the change could disrupt a carefully crafted Prohibition-era system
that balances regulation of beer, wine and distilled spirits along with
the functions of wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
liquor lobby that protects the system is one of the top campaign
contributors, giving to more than 80 percent of the 188 General
Assembly members - all of whom are up for election this fall.
advocates are concerned about the influence. The liquor lobby, Borden
said at a news conference announcing his resignation, has a
"stranglehold" on the Assembly.
Thomas Minkin, chairman of the
Baltimore County Liquor Board, said the advocates have wrongly
dismissed legitimate concerns over the bill.
If just one teen is
able to buy and consume wine over the Internet, and then goes out and
kills someone, Minkin said, how could lawmakers live with themselves?
C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the beverage distributors, says the bill is
written so broadly that out-of-state liquor stores - not just wineries
- would be able to ship to Maryland consumers, "cannibalizing" local
Advocates point to the fact that 37 states have
direct shipping, and no studies have shown increases in teenage
drinking or harm to local liquor stores.