—60% of All Wines Approved For Sale in the U.S. since 2013 Banned Under HB 189 As Currently Written—
(Harrisburg, PENN, May 14, 2015) A bill recently passed out of the Pennsylvania House (HB 189) would, if it becomes law, ban the sale and direct shipment into Pennsylvania of all European wines, while only allowing the state’s consumers to have domestic wines shipped to their door. As written, the bill would ban shipment into the state of more than 60% of all wines approved for sale in the United States.
Masquerading as a pro-consumer bill, HB 189 would not only extremely limit what Pennsylvanians could have shipped to them, but would also likely produce litigation for its unconstitutional discrimination. The Bill, sponsored by Representative Curt Sonney, was amended to only allow out-of-state wineries to ship to state consumers, while banning the sale and shipment to consumers from the only American source of European wines: American wine retailers.
National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) Executive Director Tom Wark made the following statement concerning the impending ban on the sale and shipment of all European wines via House Bill 189.
“America’s wine retailers, not wineries, are consumers’ only source of French, German, Spanish, Italian as well as all other imported, including Australian, New Zealand, Chilean, Argentinean, Canadian and South African wines. Banning out-of-state retailers from shipping into Pennsylvania while only allowing domestic wineries to ship is not only a slap in the face to American retailers, but represents a complete and total disregard for Pennsylvania consumers who expect the long awaited direct wine shipping rights to give them access to all wines—Not just those made in North America.
Equally important, since auction houses that sell rare and hard to find wines and Wine-of-the-Month clubs are classified as retailers, these services would also be off limits to Pennsylvania wine lovers. And since most Kosher wines are produced outside the country, these too would largely be banned from the direct shipment channel.
“Additionally, we believe responsible lawmakers ought to be concerned with the Constitutional and free trade problems raised by the impending ban on the sales and shipments of all non-domestic wines. Banning the sale and shipment of an entire class of wines (imported wines) in favor of another class of wines will only invite lawsuits—as well it should.
“The NAWR urges the Pennsylvania Senate to pass a genuine wine shipping bill that allows shipment of both domestic and imported wines by allowing consumers to purchase from both out of state wineries and out-of-state retailers. If the Pennsylvania Senate follow the path of the House and passes a blatantly discriminatory bill likely to be challenged in court, Pennsylvanians will not have direct shipment access to any wines.”
HB 189 was originally drafted to allow consumers to have wine shipped to them from both out of state wineries and retailers, thereby providing access to both domestic and imported wines. Along the way, special interests gamed the bill to assure consumers had access to the least amount of wine possible in order to protect themselves from competition.
NAWR urges the Senate to support a wine shipping bill that isn’t a slap to free trade, that doesn’t invite more lawsuits, that doesn’t engage in protectionism at the expense of consumers and that treats Pennsylvania wine lovers with respect. Any Senate version of a wine shipping bill ought to include a provision allowing consumers to purchase from out of state wine stores as well as wineries.
The National Association of Wine Retailers represents wine stores located across the country. For more information see www.nawr.org.
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