County delegation critical to legalize wine shipping

The Sentinel Newspapers posted the article below about the important role that the Prince George’s County delegation plays in the passage of the direct wine shipping legislation:

County delegation critical to legalize wine shipping

Published on: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

By Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws

Have you ever visited a winery and wanted to ship some back to your home?

Or have you ever thought about giving someone a gift basket with a bottle of wine in it? Both of these activities are felony crimes in Maryland requiring mandatory jail time, yet Maryland residents can legally receive ammunition, fireworks and narcotics delivered legally to their doors.

“Maryland is one of only three states left in the United States where wine shipping is a felony,” said Adam Borden, executive director of Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws, the main consumer group pushing to change the law. “In a day and age when virtually anything else can be delivered directly to your door, our wine shipping ban seems a little antiquated for such a progressive state.”

Maryland’s criminal statute around wine shipping dates back decades and has gone unchallenged largely due to the power and influence of the liquor lobby. The Washington Post wrote a Dec. 24 editorial entitled “Maryland’s Liquor Lobby and the Politics of Obstruction” that highlighted this connection. “The state’s barons of booze, who are among the most lavish donors of campaign cash to state lawmakers … act in cahoots to stymie consumers and limit selection by banning direct shipments from wineries to Marylanders’ homes,” reads the editorial.

Of the approximately 6,500 American wineries, only 15 percent sell in the state, primarily because they are too small to interest a distributor. Almost all of Maryland’s 38 wineries fall into this category, which means that their products are thinly distributed and largely unavailable. Prince George’s County is one of only a few counties left without a homegrown winery operation.

Borden’s group is promoting a law change that would allow not only wineries but also retailers to be able to ship to Maryland consumers. Maryland liquor law prohibits a resident from holding more than one liquor license, so entrepreneurial store owners are limited in how they can grow their businesses.

The proposed legislation would allow stores to sell online and deliver for the first time in Maryland. Several Maryland fine wine stores have joined his board while others around the state like State Line Liquors in Elkton have been profiled as supportive in the Cecil Whig’s article “Wine Merchants Want Freedom to Mail You a Bottle.”

A number of the Prince George’s County delegation figure prominently in this bill’s fate. In the Maryland House of Delegates, Del. Dereck Davis (D-25) chairs the Economic Matters Committee that first hears the legislation. Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-25) is on the nine-member Alcohol Sub-Committee that recommends whether this legislation should be favorably received by the full Economic Matters Committee, where colleague, Del. Michael Vaughn (D-24), will also have the chance to vote on it. None of these delegates co-sponsored last year’s legislation.

The companion legislation in the Maryland Senate is heard by the nine-member Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee which counts two Prince George’s County delegation members among its members. Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-22) has previously supported the wine shipping bill in years past while Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-21) has not.

The wine shipping legislation has never successfully left its respective committees, a situation the Baltimore Sun described as “bottled up” in committee in its similarly named September editorial, encouraging the committees to pass the bill to the full chamber. The issue of wine shipping has been discussed in Annapolis for 29 years. “I’m really optimistic that 2010 will be our vintage so to speak,” said Borden. “Our elected officials should once and for all stand up to the liquor lobby to represent their constituents’ interests.”

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws

Comments:

Posted By: Terrell On: 1/21/2010

Title: Come on PG!

Maybe the reason PG is not behind this bill is because many of its residents are in close proximity to DC, where they can ship to the offices there and bootleg it home..

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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