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U.S. Congressman Introduces New Act Threatening Direct Shipping

on 21/03/11 at 5:18 pm

Booze News
House Resolution 1161 picks up where last year’s 5034 left off; can shipping opponents attract more votes this time?

The fate of direct shipping of wine from wineries and retailers to consumers is once again in the hands of the U.S. Congress. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, introduced a reiteration of last year’s Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act (the “CARE Act”) yesterday. This year’s version is House Resolution 1161, the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act. The new CARE Act, if passed, could end direct shipping of wine and other forms of alcohol in the United States, or at least put major roadblocks in front of lawsuits by consumers and wineries trying to reduce restrictions on direct shipping.

The bill’s stated intention is to ensure state governments maintain their ability to regulate alcohol under the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition, and protect them from costly litigation challenging their laws governing direct-to-consumer wine shipping. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Granholm decision in 2005, which struck down Michigan’s shipping policies allowing in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers’ homes but banned that practice by out-of-state wineries, a series of lawsuits across the country, most of them ultimately successful, have challenged restrictions on direct shipping. Today, 37 states allow the direct shipment of wine from producers to consumers. (A similar lawsuit that would have given the same protections to retailers was recently appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Justices declined to hear it.) The CARE Act would make it much harder to challenge such restrictions, allowing state governments to pass laws effectively banning direct shipping.

{Full story via Wine Spectator}

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