—National Association of Wine Retailers Urges Lawmakers to
Finish the Job of Reforming Massachusetts Wine Shipping Laws—
(Boston, MASS)—In the service of rent-seeking special interests with real money to spend and with a continued disregard of consumer demand, Massachusetts still bars its citizens from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores and wine retailers. However, that archaic system can be dismantled with the passage of House Bill 3891, a bill that would allow such shipments and that must be passed out of Committee by February 7th.
When Massachusetts finally overcame the self-serving opposition to direct wine shipments by the state’s middlemen wholesalers in 2014 and passed its wine shipping law, the state failed in one respect: the new wine shipping law only allowed Massachusetts consumers to receive shipments from out-of-state wineries and kept the shipping ban in place for out-of-state retailers. HB 3891 would correct this anti-consumer, protectionist ban on certain wine shipments by allowing consumers to receive shipments from out-of-state wine stores and retailers under the same regulations that out-of-state wineries ship wine into the state.
At a hearing on HB 3891 in the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure last September; Committee members heard impassioned pleas from consumers to allow these shipments. Committee members received 400 letters from Massachusetts wine lovers explaining that their desire to obtain the products they want ought to supersede the desire of a few middlemen wholesalers to control consumer access to wines. Now Committee members have until February 7th to act on those consumer pleas.
The National Association of Wine Retailers also testified at the September hearing. Committee members heard three truths in that testimony: 1) retailer wine shipping will not hurt local businesses as consumers will not pay shipping charges on wine they can find locally, 2) regulated retailer wine shipments will result in considerable new tax revenue for the state paid by out-of-state wine retailers and, 3) retailer shipments will mean Massachusetts consumers would finally have access to all wines available in the American marketplace, not just those state wine wholesalers profit from selling.
These truths still hold true today and represent the most important reason members of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection ought to approve HB 3891 and send it on for a vote by the entire legislature.
The ban on wine shipments from out-of-state retailers was written into Massachusetts law in the 1930s. No one doubts that economic and consumer circumstances have changed since Prohibition was repealed. Massachusetts lawmakers ought to recognize that fact, finish the job of opening the Massachusetts wine market and allow all wine shipments by passing HB 3891 into law.
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Tom Wark, Executive Director
National Association of Wine Retailers
707-266-1445 • [email protected]