Wine Lover Update

According to my just arrived Free the Grapes newsletter, Texass has become the 27th state to support limited, regulated direct to consumer wine shipments.

Authored by State Senator Frank Madla (D-San Antonio), and signed into law May 9 by Governor Perry, the bill declared the entire state “wet” for wine shipments. On June 26, 2003, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that Texas’ ban on interstate direct wine shipments was unconstitutional. Later that year, the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission declared that the state was “open” for direct shipments but ruled that all wineries must comply with existing wet and dry rules. This requirement limited direct shipments because the definitions of wet and dry areas were not defined by zip codes. Senator Madla’s bill resolved this issue by making the entire state wet and gained the support of the Texas ABC and local wineries. The bill also requires licensed wineries to pay excise and sales taxes, creating a new source of revenue for the state.

They also noted:

Separately, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in May or June on the December 7 argument that considered whether or not the 21st Amendment permits states to allow intra-state shipments from its wineries to consumers, but deny that same privilege to out-of-state wineries.

Jeez louise, I hope they come through on this, as I’m stuck in one of the backwoods bastions that’ll be affected. Bingley has to have lovely presents of wine bottles shipped to a friend of ours in AL. (I get to do a daring border run to pick them up. Five minutes away, okay, but it is another state. Well, actually damn near a third world country, but I digress.) The FL wholesalers have the legislature so tightly wrapped that wine can’t come into the state UNLESS it goes through them first. What a racket. (Of course, the MADD and Christian anti-alcohol bunch have their puddies in the mix, too.) Then there’s the emotional appeal about protecting the children ~ if one allows internet wine sales and has children online, one has drunken children. Everyone knows they are incapable of not ordering that $50 bottle plus $15 shipping. Or for 12 year olds with a real problem, 2 or 3 or 4 bottles, and just knockin’ ’em back around the Nintendo.
Hmmm. Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. I mean, look what happened with Bingley and his Atari and Crusader and…
Forget everything I said.

32 Responses to “Wine Lover Update”

  1. Dave J says:

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but while I’m all for interstate direct shipments of alcohol being made as easy as possible legislatively, I also don’t think impediments to it are unconstitutional and if the US Supreme Court decides otherwise, it’ll be one more reason to be embarassed by them. The 21st Amendment repealed federal prohibition, but it also expressly authorized the states to regulate alcohol, up to and including banning it, so they logically are (and have been held to be, up until now) capable of doing anything short of that, too. It’s both later in time AND more specific than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce, so it should trump that.

  2. I will nod in agreement about the Supreme Court, but, as an affected (?!) individual, I’m also secretly glad they’re willing to take a look. That’s the nice thing about this particular organization ~ it tracks all the hot stuff by state and what the respective legislatures are doing about it. They also are kind enough to provide a template for protest that goes to the appropriate mucky mucks, or to cut and paste to your own reps. For example:

    As an adult voter of Florida, I strongly encourage you to SUPPORT the wine direct shipping language currently included in Senate Bill 906 (Dockery) and House Bill 975 (Bogdanoff).
    Among the 24 states that still ban interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments, Florida is the second largest as measured by wine enjoyment.
    Unfortunately, the $32 billion wine wholesaler cartel has aggressively defended their state-sanctioned monopolies in wine distribution in states like ours. Their rough tactics triggered a thorough study by the Federal Trade Commission in 2003, which concluded that shipment bans prevent consumers from saving as much as 21 percent on some wines and from conveniently purchasing many popular wines from wineries around the country. And the FTC’s survey of alcohol regulators in 11 states with provisions for direct shipping found “no evidence suggesting direct shipping increases underage access.”…etc.

    The downside is that my state goobers also represent the county next to us, a DRY county, that’s famous for most churches per square mile in the country. They’re in a battle to buy a bottle on their block or with dinner, less mind internet wise, spawning letters like this in the paper:

    Wet-dry debate is a moral issue
    Bill Bledsoe
    Pensacola News Journal
    Santa Rosa County voters obviously have learned well a lesson from history, and since 1919 have maintained the same position: Vote dry!
    Reports from official records of prominent sociologists, criminologists, economists, educators, corporate heads, etc., published 10 years after the national prohibition repeal, show America has drowned in the destructive results of repeal. (Dr. Deets L. Pickett, ”The Truth About Prohibition,” 1963, is well-documented.)
    Pickett quotes from annual reports of the FBI: In 1940 (10 years after repeal), there were 600,000 alcoholics (not counting social drinkers). In 1960, there were an estimated five million alcoholics.
    So, where do these people get off saying that total wet laws will be an improvement, or that things are ”finer” when wet?
    Better off than neighbors
    ”Wetties” claim liquor taxes will enrich county coffers. How absurd. Santa Rosa County already gets its fair share of all liquor taxes. Our county is better off financially than our neighbors who, incidentally, are all wet.
    The U.S. Supreme Court concurred with the national attitude that the government should not license anything that is inimical to the general welfare and that the liquor traffic has no natural rights (Crowley vs. Christensen 137 US 86, 11Ct 13).
    Grow Our Local Economy chair Chuck Pohlmann said, ”We are not encouraging anyone to drink” (News Journal, April 10). Anyone who believes that availability does not encourage one to participate (in whatever it is) must have their head in the ‘Shaker sands.
    Pohlmann can respectfully disagree that the alcohol issue is one of morals. But there is no such thing as an ”amoral” person. In the strict sense of the word, one would have to be brain dead.
    I have not seen any reports of our supermarkets losing any business to another county. Everyone I have been to seems to be doing well. Perhaps Pohlmann can cite the report that shows our markets are hurting financially.
    It is a sad day when liquor has to be the issue to play on the sympathies of a community that has been brutalized by Hurricane Ivan and the latest rainstorm. Liquor will not aid in the recovery from these problems. But history is replete with proof that the increased availability will increase society’s problems.
    Pohlmann said in his viewpoint: ”We didn’t want people to think the committee thinks drinking enhances one’s quality of life.” That message came through loud and clear in every economic point. You cannot discuss improving the economy without the implication that the quality of life will be improved. Then, he says the committee decided the foundation of their economic debate is the alcohol issue. My, my.
    Santa Rosa County does not need an increased tax base if that base is liquor, which eventually will cost the county more than that tax base brings in.
    Pohlmann states that his committee is made up of men and women from all walks of life. Isn’t that grand. I wonder what he thinks the dry forces are made of?
    Don’t believe for one minute that Grow Our Local Economy is reluctant to bring up the alcohol issue because past votes have led to heated debates and mean-spirited campaigns that divided the county. The tourism industry they are promoting evidently cannot survive without liquor. Follow the money.
    Social ills go with liquor
    The pie-in-the-sky economic growth that Navarre people are eyeing will produce another ”spring break” scene similar to other beach areas where, for one instance, there’s always drunk students from other states falling off balconies. This is not illogical or nonsensical thinking. That kind of behavior always follows free-flowing liquor.
    The wetties can say how well-heeled, all walks of life and well-intentioned they are, but they cannot disprove or debate the fact that social ills are the direct result of liquor and that this really is a moral issue, as well as economic.
    Santa Rosa County voters should stay their course. To change would be like changing the horse in midstream. This is not the time to invite more problems into the county.
    Vote dry.
    Bill Bledsoe is a member of the Florida National Prohibition Committee and is a resident of Milton.

    The wetties?!

  3. Mr. Bingley says:

    Their Depends leaked?

  4. I think it’s more cranial fluid leaking, from the sound of it.

  5. peteb says:

    limited, regulated direct to consumer”??
    Free the Grapes!!!

  6. Ken Summers says:

    “On June 26, 2003, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that Texas’ ban on interstate direct wine shipments was unconstitutional.”
    I gather that the Texas ban was unconstitutional for prohibiting interstate shipments but allowing intrastate shipments. Otherwise, I don’t see how the 5th Circuit could hold that opinion. As Dave said, the amendment is pretty damned explicit as constitutional amendments go.
    Interesting observation, and Dave, correct me if my reading is incorrect, but I read the second section of the amendment as making it a federal crime to violate state liquor laws. That certainly seems to be the plain English reading of it:

    The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

    Dave, any comment?

  7. Mr. Bingley says:

    Let My Grapes Go!

  8. Ken Summers says:

    Gosh, Bingley, you sound so (dare I say it?) wrathful.

  9. {she erupts in peels of laughter}

  10. Ken Summers says:

    Norman Vincent Peel, right?

  11. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hmm, why does the government feel the need to stem the flow of wine?

  12. They have to or you get a bottleneck.

  13. Mr. Bingley says:

    That seems to be the popular sediment.

  14. Ken Summers says:

    I think these jokes are down to the dregs.

  15. Ken Summers says:

    Which reminds me of one of the greatest TV lines ever: When Larry (of the brothers Darryl) says of a batch of county jail prisoners, “There go the dregs of humanity.”

  16. Mr. Bingley says:

    I gotta go catch a Cab

  17. Vino where you’re going!

  18. Mr. Bingley says:

    Quit your darn wineing!

  19. Aw, put a cork in it, ya crab.

  20. peteb says:

    If only they would ban merlot..

  21. There’ll pinot more smart ass *ducks* from you young man, understood??!!

  22. Dave J says:

    I’m with Pete on that one: Merlot brings the word “wine” into disrepute.
    Ken, yes, that would be my guess as to a legitimate reason for what the Fifth Circuit did. State laws that discriminate against out-of-state actors violate the “Privileges and Immunities” Clause of Article IV, as well as arguably the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. These prohibitions are not trumped by the 21st Amendment because they don’t by necessity conflict with it.

  23. Nightfly says:

    I like how that Bledsoe dude focuses on the abuse of alcohol as a reason to ban the use, but neglects everything about the sudden sharp increase in organized crime after Prohibition began. Are drunks worse than murder, extortion, or leg-breaking?
    For the record, the 2003 numbers from Santa Rosa county. In 2002, their index per 100,000 was lower than their neighboring counties, but their populations are also higher, and there is a strong correlation of increasing rates to population all through the chart.
    I find that the real key to his argument was that Santa Rosa already gets its fair share of liquor taxes. Maybe, since you don’t sell any yourselves, your fair share should be ZERO, sir. To profit off of it while calling it immoral and refusing to participate is rather… odd…

  24. I’m with Pete on that one…
    {And you’re a poophead.}

  25. peteb says:

    There’ll pinot more smart ass *ducks* from you young man, understood??!!
    Yippee! I’m young again!

  26. Nightfly says:

    By the way, you go, you tree-hugging prophetess! Sister 1, Bledsoe 0.

  27. Ken Summers says:

    Dave, am I reading it right that the amendment literally makes it a federal crime to violate the state laws?

  28. Ooooh, FLY! Nicely done!! Creampuff to you, old man.
    Santa Rosa allows beer sales and some other treacly swill, but no wines/liquor, so maybe that’s what he’s calling ‘their share’. In reality, there are two Santa Rosa’s. North of I-10, which is a hotbed of 1930’s Christianity in all it’s intolerant piety. The southern end used to be a sleepy little enclaves of fisherfolk, peanut farmers or beach dwellers who wanted cheap beach peace and quiet, unlike what Pensacola Beach was becoming. Not much of a voting block there, and the six folks voting for a wet county would go down in flames each referendum. Plus, P-cola Bch, although technically Santa Rosa County, had been exempted and had liquor stores/bars (which may also be where he gets the ‘our share of taxes’ line), so you could scoot down the island to get a bottle. Now, fast forward 40 years and the demographics have changed hugely. You have quarter to million dollar homes as the norm, tons of big buck condos going up and high end grocery stores being built to feed all these sophisticates and they can’t buy a bottle of wine? (They also have to drive 30 miles to get a drink with dinner, which means no restaurant worth it’s salt can survive.) I don’t see them standing for it too much longer.

  29. Mr. Bingley says:

    How can one eat without wine?

  30. Nightfly says:

    Two words, Bings – Taco Bell.

  31. Dave J says:

    “Dave, am I reading it right that the amendment literally makes it a federal crime to violate the state laws?”
    Well, yes and no. (How’s that for a weaselly lawyer answer?) It prohibits it, but, of course, doesn’t actually provide any penalties; nor does it fully define the crime, like treason (the only crime defined in the federal constitution). Thus, without implementing legislation by Congress, you couldn’t be prosecuted federally for violating state liquor laws (although the feds might still arguably be able to prosecute you for CONSPIRING to do so under the general federal conspiracy statute). However, there is exactly such legislation. See 18 U.S.C. § 1262.

  32. (Never weasely ~ but you’re still a poophead.)

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