Direct wine shipping may get summer study

The Daily Record posted the article below about the current state of the direct wine shipping bill, saying that legislation mostly likely will first require "a study of wine-shipping practices in other states":

Direct wine shipping may get summer study

Posted: 6:57 pm Thu, March 18, 2010
By Nicholas Sohr
Daily Record Business Writer

State Sen. Jamin B. ‘Jamie’ Raskin, D-Montgomery, is the sponsor of the direct-shipping wine bill.

State Sen. Jamin B. ‘Jamie’ Raskin, D-Montgomery, is the sponsor of the direct-shipping wine bill.

ANNAPOLIS — Supporters of vintner-to-consumer wine-shipping legislation, while holding out hope for action this year, have settled on a Plan B — a study of wine-shipping practices in other states they hope will lead to a renewed effort next year.

At the same time, a less controversial winery bill, the Winery Modernization Act, is poised for easy passage after cruising back to the floor of the House of Delegates and Senate this week.

Despite the support of 106 members and majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, the direct-shipping movement has struggled in the face of opposition from powerful alcohol wholesalers, distributors and retailers and one key senator. Wineries have, in large part, stayed out of the fight to avoid raising the ire of the alcohol lobby.

“It’s a right that hundreds of millions of Americans already enjoy,” said Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, the Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the direct-shipping bill, SB 566.

“I am very optimistic that we’ll have direct shipping before the session is over,” Raskin added. “But, at the very least, we wanted to get the comptroller’s report on direct shipping.”

The Senate, at Raskin’s request, added a shipping study amendment to the modernization act and then gave the bill preliminary approval Thursday.

“I’m fine with it [the amendment],” said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, the sponsor of the modernization act who opposes the direct-shipping legislation.

Conway said she still has concerns about direct shipping. As chairwoman of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, she is in position to block any attempts to push the legislation through the General Assembly this year.

Del. Dereck E. Davis, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, said his panel will vote on the House’s direct-shipping bill, HB 716, early next week.

The House gave the modernization act preliminary approval Thursday without the study provision. The bill would clarify what wineries can and can’t do, and ease entry into the wine-making industry.

Davis said that if his committee does not pass direct shipping, the House would likely take the Senate’s modernization bill rather than forge ahead with its own modernization bill that does not include the shipping study.

“I think it’s either going to be pass direct shipping or study direct shipping,” he said.

Thirty-seven states and Washington, D.C., allow wineries to ship directly to their residents. Under the Senate version of the bill, the comptroller’s office would study the effects of direct shipping in those jurisdictions and report  to the General Assembly before next year’s legislative session.

Consumer advocates argue that direct shipping will open up the fine wine market to Marylanders and ensure that the state gets its fair share of the tax revenue. Legislative analysts anticipate that revenues from the 40-cent-per-gallon excise tax on wine would increase between $90,000 and $100,000 a year. Supporters of the bill, however, put the number much higher — closer to $1 million.

Alcohol wholesalers, distributors and retailers say direct shipping would increase underage drinking and hurt the family-owned businesses that make up the state’s alcoholic beverage distribution network.

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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