Senator Zirkin tried, but failed to get an amendment passed that would ‘allow’ Maryland residents to receive shipments of wine, which as of today, is still a legal product.
The move would have upset an uneasy compromise reached last week between proponents of direct shipping – a majority of the 47 senators – and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, the head of the health committee and a unwavering opponent of the bill. They agreed to amend a direct shipping study to Conway’s Winery Modernization Act, a bill that includes a slate of technical changes to winery law. (Here’s our latest story on the winery legislation in the General Assembly, and our longer overview.)
Zirkin’s gambit prompted nearly 30 minutes of debate on the Senate floor, with some direct shipping proponents urging him to give up his amendment so as not to scuttle the modernization bill, and others clamoring for a chance to put the idea to a full-Senate vote.
Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, said her office received more than 900 calls from direct shipping supporters this year.
“I must keep my word and I must support this, because apparently it’s the only way it will come before us,” Kelley said.
In the end, Zirkin acquiesced to those who asked him to withdraw his amendment – “I wish you had done that 25 minutes earlier,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller deadpanned – but not before Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick and Washington, tried to force a vote on the issue. He took the unusual step of resisting Zirkin’s attempt to withdraw his own amendment, calling for vote on the motion.
But now, all those people who say they are for direct shipping being legal don’t actually have to vote on it and put the contributions from the distributors at risk. Well done, Senate, well done.