(Sacramento, CALIF)—Specialty Wine Retailers Association Executive Director Tom Wark issued the following statement today questioning the need for an alcohol wholesaler bailout from competition discussed at today’s Congressional hearings.
“Today’s hastily called hearings in the Sub-Committee on Courts and Competition examining state alcohol regulations amounted to congressional consideration of a bailout from competition for America’s alcohol wholesalers who mistake competition, free trade and consumer rights for deregulation.
There exists no justification to give states immunity from being sued for enacting and enforcing laws that exist solely to protect wholesalers from competition and to deny consumers access to any wines except the relatively small number of wines that wholesalers bring into the states. In asking for such protection at today’s hearings, we saw the pathetic spectacle of wholesalers come begging for a bailout from competition and one state regulator admit she was unable to do the same job of regulating out of state shippers that fellow regulators easily accomplish in most other states.
It is no surprise that while claimed, not one act of alcohol deregulation was discussed at today’s hearing since there is no deregulation of alcohol occurring in the states. Wineries and retailers have been able to ship wine direct to consumers for decades. In that time there has been no statement or testimony from any alcohol regulator or member of law enforcement that direct shipping has led to problems with minors accessing more alcohol.
Specialty Wine Retailers Association will be submitting a statement for the record to the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition urging its members no to consider legislation that exempts states from court challenges based on the Commerce Clause or to exempt state alcohol regulations from federal anti-trust laws. To do so would undoubtedly lead to immediate legislation repealing direct shipping laws and the enactment of legislation that discriminates against out-of-state wineries and retailers and profoundly restrict consumers’ ability to purchase the wines they want.
Specialty Wine Retailers Association joins the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association in demanding that states be able to enforce their alcohol laws and regulatory structures. Specialty Wine Retailers Association believes that states must be able to collect tax revenue, oversee an orderly market and advocate for temperance. Where we disagree with these organizations is in suggesting that any sector of the wine industry be bailed out from competition or in suggesting the states ought to be exempt from adhering to the simple principle of free and fair interstate trade that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and endorsed by federal courts.”
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Tom Wark, Executive Director
Specialty Wine Retailers Association