Tag Archives: Maryland

We’re Getting There

The MD House of Delegates passed a bill ‘allowing’ shipping of wine from wineries directly to consumers in Maryland.

The bill requires wineries pay $200 for the ‘privilege’ of shipping wine to MD, and consumers can only have 18 cases sent per year.  Still didn’t get all the way there, allowing for retailers to also ship into the state and eliminating the case limit, but I guess a partial win is a win in this state.

On a totally unrelated note, got 3 wines the other day from a winery in California (one of the very few who are willing to try to get around the current law by using a third party to ship something I already own.)

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Maryland Comptroller Studying Wine Shipping

Well, that sounds positive.  Until you realize the only people invited to the first meeting were representatives of the liquor distribution industry.  No consumers attended the meeting.

Wine drinkers said they were dismayed to find that they weren’t invited to the first meeting last week held by the Maryland comptroller’s office to study the wine-shipping issue.

The study commission seems to be focused on the potential impact on liquor wholesalers and distributors, and could “overlook” consumers, said Adam Borden, former executive director of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws.

Of course anything they do will be focused on liquor wholesalers and distributors.  That’s who write the checks to those campaigns.

There’s an election in November, Maryland.  Time to do some housecleaning.  Ask your representatives where they stand on this issue, and how much money they take from distributors.  If you don’t like the answers, vote for someone else.


Campaign contributions trump the citizens. Again.

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.


Direct Wine Shipments? Not in Maryland

Senator Joan Conway, the head of the committee that would approve such legislation for a full vote, has decided she has “too many concerns,” to allow a vote.  A vote on a bill supported by 106 of 188 Senators.

Her concerns?

Her chief concern, she said, is that underage drinkers will tap the Internet for wine. There’s no way, she said, to force delivery agencies, whether the U.S. Postal Service or a private carrier, to verify the age of the person accepting a package.

The other problem, she said, is that it is difficult for state officials to collect taxes from out-of-state entities – or penalize faraway violators.

The fact that it’s an election year and she relies on support from liquor distributors?  I’m sure that’s not a factor.  Nor is that her husband is a city liquor inspector.   She’s just looking out for the children…

Liquor lobbyists strongly oppose direct shipping of wine, saying it bypasses the state’s carefully crafted network of government entities that regulate the sale of alcohol. Developed just after the end of Prohibition in 1933, state law requires alcohol to pass from producer to wholesaler to retailer before it reaches the consumer.

“What do you think the liquor boards are for?” Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland, says of the bill.

The wine-shipping legislation would require manufacturers who import to be licensed, but Bereano says such a system would “not be a meaningful substitute” for liquor inspectors charged with the authority to shut down a business selling to underage customers.

…well, the children of the liquor distributors lobby, anyway.  And holding out hope for someone else to step up and get past her blockade?  Not likely.

All 188 lawmakers and Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, are up for election this fall, further imperiling the wine-shipping bill. According to a 2008 analysis by The Baltimore Sun, more than 80 percent of state legislators have received campaign contributions from the liquor lobby.

This has nothing to do with protecting children, and everything to do with protecting distributors, who’s revenues apparently are more important than the freedom of the people in Maryland.

Crossposted at The Grand Crew


A lesson

Yesterday, there was a big hubub in Baltimore.  The University of Maryland was going to show a dirty movie in the Student Union. 

Thank goodness, the State Senate stepped in and threatened to cut off funding if they went through with the show.

Through all the hand ringing about censorship and allowing young people to see this filth, I wonder if any of the kids out there caught the real lesson (unintentional though it might be).

Personally, I really don’t care what the kids watch.  It’s insignificant.  But the Senate’s actions did have a benefit.. they demonstrated that if you want the state to use force to take money from other people and give it to you, well, you better do what the state says.

Think about that, and the implications to bailouts.  You really want the government to tell you what you can and can’t do when they are paying for your health care?

Really?

Unfortunately, few will get the lesson, and we’ll go on fighting about free speech and the evils of porn, missing the larger point that Andy Harris so thoughtfully (and unintentionally) made.


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