Sunday, April 17, 2011

THE BILL THAT HATES WINE LOVERS: H.R. 1161


Wine News

In her must-read wine law blog, On Reserve, Lindsey Zahn writes about the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act - known last year as H.R. 5034 - which is rearing its ugly head again this year as H.R. 1161.  Zahn says this year's bill is identical to the second version of the proposed legislation introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

Zahn quotes the main sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, as saying that he goal of the Act is to recognize and reaffirm that alcohol is different from other consumer products, and that it should continue to be regulated by the states with unprecedented powers to regulate wine in interstate commerce.

There has been strong reaction from opponents of the bill.  Democratic congressman Mike Thompson of California is quoted as saying, "The federal government has no business picking winners and losers in the wine, beer, and distilled spirits industry.  Yet the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act would do just that by banning the direct shipment of wine and other forms of alcohol in the U.S."

The bill, according to Thompson, "would allow individual states to replace federal standards with their own, making it harder for out-of-state producers in California and elsewhere to comply with other states’ laws."

Many states already have antiquated alcohol laws on the books which serve to prop up what is known as the "three-tier system" of distribution, in which state-supported middlemen stand between wine producers and their desired products.