Each year state legislatures across the country see the introduction of new bills around January and February that in one way or another reform the alcohol beverage laws of their states. Some of the legislation is an honest attempt to make a highly regulated industry operate more smoothly or more efficiently or with more transparency.
Some of these alcohol beverage bills, however, directly impact how consumers may obtain the beverages they want and thereby impact how those selling wine, beer, and spirits may provide and offer them. The National Association of Wine Retailers monitors legislation across the states and concerns itself primarily with the way proposed legislation impacts their position on the playing field.
Below are the bills NAWR is currently monitoring this year. NAWR looks at these bills and asks a simple question before determining if the Association will support or oppose them: Do they treat American wine retailers fairly or do they disregard the interests of American wine retailers.
By this metric, there are some very promising bills in the hopper across the U.S.. But there are also some bills that in no way treat wine retailers fairly.
HB 2291 — TEXAS
A bill reforming the laws concerning the direct shipment of wine
Background: If passed, HB 2291 would allow the direct shipment of wine, beer and spirits from out-of-state wine retailers to Texas residents with no limits on the amount of wine, beer and spirits that may be shipped annually.
A5991 — NEW YORK
A bill allowing out-of-state wine retailers to ship to New York residents.
Background: Under A5991 wine retailers in states that allow New York wine retailers to ship to into the state would be authorized to ship wine to New York residents.
HB 1463 — ARKANSAS
A Bill to To Permit The Direct Shipment Of Wines From Small Farm Wineries To Arkansas Residents Without A Winery Visit; To Create A System For Distributing Shipping Permits
Background: While providing a means for the direct shipment of wine to Arkansas residents from wineries, the bill ignores retailers, providing no means for out-of-state retailers to sell and ship wine to consumers in that state
LD 339 — MAINE
A bill to reduce restrictions on direct wine shipments
Background: While providing the means by which out-of-state wineries may ship bottles smaller than 750ml. to consumers, it does not address the current prohibition on shipments from out-of-state retailers.
HF-791 — MINNESOTA
On the regulation of direct wine shipments by wineries
Background: Amends the conditions under which out-of-state wineries may ship wine direct to consumers, but does not provide for legal direct shipment of wine from out-of-state retailers to consumers
H-5350 — RHODE ISLAND
Creates a wine direct shipper license and a wine gift basket license allowing for the shipment of certain amounts of wine both in and out-of-state.
Background: As currently written the bill would create a license for both out-of-state wineries and retailers to ship wine direct to consumers in Rhode Island. In addition, it would create a license for the shipment of gift baskets that include up to 4 bottles of wine.
HB987 — MARYLAND
A vaguely written bill that reinforces the direct wine shipping statute barring out-of-state retailers and wine clubs from shipping into the state
Background: Instigated by state wine wholesalers and retailers, the bill is an attempt to re-assert the original Maryland shipping statute’s ban on Maryland consumers receiving wine from out-of-state retailers. This continues Maryland’s anti-consumer and anti-free trade position on wine shipping.
HB 298 — KENTUCKY
Authorizes direct shipment of wine from out-of-state wineries and retailers.
Background: The bill would allow both out-of-state wineries and out-of-state retailers and wine stores to obtain direct wine shipping permits allowing them to ship up to 24 cases of wine annually to individual consumers. Though likely to be amended, as currently written is is an excellent example of a well-crafted, consumer friendly, free-trade embracing wine shipping bill.