For Immediate Release October 20, 2016

Insults and Discrimination Define Michigan Senate Passage Of Wine Shipping Legislation

(Lansing, MI, October 20, 2016)—The Following Statement from Executive Director Tom Wark of the National Association of Wine Retailers is in response to the accusation of Michigan Liquor Control Commission incompetence by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and today’s Senate passage of SB 1088.

The National association of Wine Retailers forcefully condemns the claim that the Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission is incompetent and unable to do their job effectively. This kind of accusation, made by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers President Spencer Nevin in an article published yesterday by the Wine Spectator, is both insulting and wrong.

In the article entitled, “Clash Over Wine Merchant Shipping Laws Expands to Missouri and Michigan,” Nevins explained wholesalers’ support a bill (SB 1088) that denies Michigan consumers the right to have wine shipped to them from out of state wine retailers “because the practice is inconsistent with the three-tier system and isn’t subject to adequate regulation to ensure there is compliance with state laws.”

Mr. Nevins and Michigan’s wholesalers know full well that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has been effectively regulating shipments of wine from out of state for years in the form of direct shipments to consumers from wineries in California, Washington, Oregon, New York and numerous other states.

To claim now that the professionals at the MLCC are somehow too incompetent do the exact same job where out of state retailers are concerned is the kind of insult that has no place in Michigan politics. We hope Mr. Nevins will apologize to the commissioners of the MLCC, to its President Andrew Deloney and to every member of its enforcement team.

Just as insulting as the accusation of incompetence is the fact that Michigan wholesalers threw the MLCC under the bus to hide their real reason for opposing consumers’ ability to receive wine shipments from out of state wine retailers: They want to be protected from having to compete on a level playing field. It was a cowardly act.

Today’s passage in the Senate of SB 1088, which allows Michigan retailers to ship wine to Michigan consumers but denies that right to out of state retailers, can only be described as a cry for protection from legitimate competition and an act of unconstitutional discrimination against interstate commerce.

Michigan wholesalers as well as lawmakers know an identical law was ruled unconstitutional by a Michigan Federal District Court in 2008. If passed into law, SB 1088 will result in another costly lawsuit, deny the state important tax revenue the would result from allowing out of state retailers to ship to Michigan consumers and, importantly, deny Michigan consumers the right to legally purchase the wines they want, no matter where they find them.

The National Association of Wine Retailers opposes SB 1088. Instead it supports a policy that will open up the Michigan for wine shipment from all licensed retailers as well as give Michigan consumers the ability to purchase the wines they want, no matter where the wines are located.

The National Association of Wine Retailers is an organization of wine stores, internet wine retailers auction houses and wine clubs that advocate for reform of liquor regulatory control that meets the needs of a 21st century industry and marketplace.

# # #

Tom Wark, Executive Director
National Association of Wine Retailers
707-266-1449 • [email protected]