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Free The Grapes Update



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June 7, 2013

There is a lot to report this month, and we’ll start with the winners.

Montana Becomes 40th Legal State for Winery Shipments
House Bill 402 was signed by the governor on April 12 and goes into effect October 1, 2013. The new law will replace the flawed connoisseur’s license with a workable wine direct shipping law. Less than 200 wine lovers actually hold a connoisseur’s license and FedEx will not ship wine to Montana because the licensing requirement is on the consumer and not the winery.

North Dakota Fix-it Passes
Senate Bill 2147 was signed by the governor and permits licensed out-of-state direct shippers to use fulfillment warehouses in preparing direct wine shipments into the state. SB 2147 remedies an issue in ND law that resulted in prohibiting the use of fulfillment warehouses by licensed wineries, a common practice in other states. The law takes effect on August 1, 2013.

Massachusetts: Support House Bill 294
We need your (continued) help to counter the messages that the package store association is sending to legislators. You can click here to send a letter to your legislator.

Thanks for all your support – it has been a busy year. If you didn’t catch us at Boston Wine Expo (February) or at the Second Glass Wine Riot (April), you may have heard interviews with former NFL quarterback and vintner, Drew Bledsoe, in March. Letters from wine lovers to legislators really do work.

Pennsylvania: Tax Fixes Sought
Several bills in play would allow for DTC shipments but include bad tax language, adding 6% sales tax plus 18% flood tax to the retail price of purchased wine. Note that these bills are not part of the debate over privatization. Please continue writing your state legislators. Just click here.

Flawed Arkansas Bill to become Law
House Bill 1749 was signed by the Governor on 3/21/13. There was never any testimony taken on the bill which moved through the legislature in less than two weeks. The provisions of the bill are extremely onerous. For example, the bill requires consumers to be physically present at the winery at the time of the sale, deliveries must be made during business hours when alcohol may be sold in state, and boxes must include label provided by the AR ABC. The ABC must do rulemaking, and the effective date of the law will not be determined until the legislature adjourns.

Nebraska Passes Onerous Bill
L230 adds burdensome requirements on wineries, such as requiring monthly rather than annual reports, requiring notification of wholesalers, etc. The bill was signed by the Governor on 4/24/13.

Here are some concise updates on other direct shipping bills around the country:

  • DE: House Bill 60 died in committee. Would have allowed DTC shipments.
  • GA: House Bill 137, allowing retailers to send wine gift baskets, died in committee.
  • IN: Senate Bill 15, which would have removed the winery visitation penalty, died in committee.
  • MD: House Bill 1420 died in committee and would have prohibited a DTC order to be transmitted to a winery by a retailer, wholesaler, or other third party (e.g., Amazon). House Bill 1366 died in committee, and would have allowed retailer DTC. Finally, House Bill 590, which would have allowed retailers to ship only sacramental or kosher wine, died in committee.
  • ME: Flawed House Bill 411 died in committee.
  • MI: Senate Bill 216 would add beer to the existing DTC shipping law.
  • MN: Senate Bill 66 would add malt liquor to DTC shipping statute.
  • OK: HJR 1035, similar to DTC bills in the past, died in committee. (Bill would require a popular vote and change in state’s constitution.)
  • RI: H6038, the model DTC bill, died in committee but is being held for study.
  • SD: S100, a DTC model bill, died in committee.
  • TN: H200 would have created a DTC shipping law for beer, but died in committee.
  • TX: Two bills that would require the state to “level down” if any portions of the ABC law were deemed a violation of the Commerce Clause, died in committee.
  • VT: Two bills that would allow DTC beer shipments died.

More news and updates are posted on our Facebook page.
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