Free the Grapes!

    May 19, 2018

FREE THE GRAPES! BLOG
Free the Grapes! recently started a blog to address key issues for wineries. Current posts on our blog page include:

  • WSWA Comments on Retailer DTC: A Little Fact Checking is in Order
  • Why is Retailer DTC Shipping So Restricted?
  • What is DTC Shipping? Outside the wine industry, the definition gets a bit cloudy.

TOP NEWS ITEMS

After Veto Scare, Oklahoma to be 45th Legal State in October
A bill allowing common carriers to comply with the new state law was under veto threat, but Free the Grapes! consumers sent 550+ letters to Governor Fallin within 24 hours in support of SB 1537. The Governor signed the bill the next day, which will allow winery direct shipping in October. The signature capped off years of successful lobbying by Wine Institute.

Delaware House to Vote on Direct Shipping June 5
Delaware is one of six states (soon to be five) that has an outright ban on DTC shipping. House Bill 165, while not ideal, passed the House Committee on Administration on April 25 and is now on the June 5 agenda for a floor vote. Free the Grapes! is working actively in the state with Wine Institute and local wineries to encourage consumers to write their legislators. Our message: amend the ban on wines already in distribution, then pass HB165. We need your help, too! ACTION: Send your consumers to this page

New Bills Introduced in New Jersey
Wine Institute and Free the Grapes! are working to support Senate Bill 2496 and Assembly Bill 3867. The two bills would add a new permit allowing wineries producing more than 250k gallons to direct ship, without touching the existing DTC statutes. ACTION: To support our efforts, please direct consumers to this page.

 

OTHER LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

ALABAMA
Unfortunately, Alabama’s wine and beer wholesalers as well as the state’s powerful retailers had Senate Bill 243, a favorable shipping bill, killed before it could reach a vote by the Senate. Alabama consumers were quite active in their support, generating 900+ letters to state legislators.

ALASKA
Senate Bill 76, an omnibus bill, passed the Senate on April 30, but failed to pass in the House when the bill’s author withdrew his bill following amendments that were unrelated to the DTC shipping portion of the bill. If it had passed, it would, have replaced the “reasonable amount” provision for DTC shipments with a new permit and 12 case limit. It is likely this issue will be back again in 2019 when they start a new legislative session.

CONNECTICUT
House Bill 5368 would have allowed for retailer DTC shipping within the current winery shipping law, but the legislature adjourned May 9 without taking action.

HAWAII
2411 would have added beer and spirits to the wine DTC law, but the state adjourned in early May and the bill did not move.

KENTUCKY House Bill 400 was signed by the Governor and allows for wine and spirits DTC. Unfortunately, it includes an onsite order provision which may face a court challenge, does not solve the wet/dry issue, and is unclear on other tax matters. Wine Institute recommends that wineries not take action until these issues are resolved.

LOUISIANA
Senate Bill 508 would have gutted our DTC law but it was amended to only require ID checks at point of delivery. The bill is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

MINNESOTA
House Bill 791 would create a permit structure and a 12 case/year limit, an increase from 2 cases per year.

MISSISSIPPI
As previously reported, several bills were under consideration—some good, some bad – but they all died in committee. Despite the loss, lobbyists view the legislative landscape more favorably than in previous years.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Senate Bill 353, the commission’s bill to ban retailer DTC shipping, failed to pass. However, the commission has recently started rejecting all applications and renewals for retailer shipping licenses. To date, winery DTC license renewals appear to be being processed as before.

NEW YORK
Assembly Bill 5991, and Senate Bill 5330, both carryover bills from 2017, would allow retailer DTC shipping. SB 5330 is now in the Senate Finance Committee.

VIRGINIA
H 826 was signed by the Governor in March. It raises the permit license fees from $95 to $230 in order to fund compliance enforcement.