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Updated: April 19, 2013
Montana Becomes 40th Legal State for Winery Shipments!
Montana House Bill 402 was signed by the Governor on April 13, 2013, and will go into effect October 1, 2013. Thanks to all our friends in Montana for supporting HB 402, and expanding your choice in wine!
HB 402 replaces the flawed connoisseur’s license with a workable wine direct shipping law. Although well intentioned, the connoisseur’s license required consumers–rather than wineries—to obtain a state-issued license. Only 188 licenses were ever issued. This approach did not work in New Jersey or Vermont, either, and those states replaced their laws with one similar to HB 402.
HB 402 permits any out-of-state winery “registered” in Montana to obtain a Direct Shipment Endorsement and sell and ship up to 18 nine-liter cases of wine annually to an individual in Montana who is at least 21 years of age. If a winery is currently selling wine through a wholesaler in Montana, the winery is already registered and will only need to obtain a Direct Shipment Endorsement for an annual fee of $50. (There is a tiered registration fee for wineries not yet registered.) Finally, HB 402 for the first time allows Montana wineries to ship to Montana consumers.
Updated: April 4, 2013
We have several important updates on wine direct shipping this month, and we’ll start with Massachusetts.
MASSACHUSETTS: Please Write Your Legislators!
Now is the time to act – we’ve got an unconstitutional statute, a solution under consideration, and extensive media coverage. Here’s what we need:
- Write a Letter: Please visit our website and take two minutes to personalize our sample letter and send it automatically through our website to your legislators.
- Start a Local Advocacy Group: We’re looking for a few wine lovers from Massachusetts to start a local advocacy group, with support from Free the Grapes!, to write letters to local newspapers, to contact your legislators, and to attend public hearings. Just email email@example.com for more information.
The legislature is now considering House Bill 294, a favorable bill that would replace an unconstitutional law with a proven solution. However, some Massachusetts package stores and wholesalers remain opposed, and so we need to explain to legislators why you – not special interests – should decide which wines you can purchase and enjoy.
Here are some recent activities in the Commonwealth:
- Former Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe Blitzs Boston Media. Free the Grapes! and industry representatives coordinated a full day of meetings and interviews on March 21 with former New England Patriots QB and current Washington vintner, Drew Bledsoe. The day was a tremendous success, raising awareness of the unconstitutional statute and the solution. Media coverage included nearly every local affiliate TV station, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, ESPN.com, National Public Radio, and Wine Spectator among others. Many thanks to Mr. Bledsoe for advocating for the cause!
- Consumer Outreach at the Boston Wine Expo. We enjoyed seeing many of you at the wine tasting in February. See the video we created with your help.
Action: Share our video on your Facebook page!
- Wine Riot Boston. Come see us at this weekend’s Boston Wine Riot, April 5-6.
MONTANA: Legal State #40? Favorable Bill on Governor’s Desk. Montana House Bill 402 passed the House on March 14 and the Senate on March 27. The bill is on the Governor’s desk and a signature is expected. HB 402 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, as you may know, will not ship wine to Montana because the licensing requirement is on the consumer and not the winery.
PENNSYLVANIA: Tax Fixes Sought to Live Bills. House Bill 121 now goes to the House floor for a vote. HB 121, unfortunately, continues to include unreasonably high tax provisions. Senate Bill 36 also includes the high tax language. Wine industry representatives are working hard to reduce the tax rates in these bills. (The bills add 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.
Action: Write your legislators by clicking here.
ARKANSAS: Flawed Bill Moves Forward. H 1749, the flawed DTC shipping bill introduced by the Speaker of the House was passed by both chambers and signed by the Governor on March 21. 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 and few wineries will probably ship. 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 state’s alcohol regulators. The effective date of the law will not be determined until the legislature adjourns.
MARYLAND: Flawed Bill Averted. Senate Bill 990 would have prohibited winery DTC shippers from using third-party marketplaces such as Amazon to sell in the state. On March 8, wine industry representatives testified in opposition to S 990 and it appears that the author will withdraw her bill.
OKLAHOMA: HJR 1035 calls for a vote of the people to allow DTC shipping as follows: “Wineries, either within or outside of this state that are licensed by the OK ABLE Commission [to] receive order for, sell and ship wine directly to consumers over the age of 21 either within or outside of this state who have visited the winery in person.” Wine industry representatives are opposing the bill at this time because of the on-site visit requirement.
DELAWARE: House Bill 60, a favorable DTC shipping permit bill, would allow wineries to ship 12 cases annually under at $100 permit fee.
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