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So-Called Alcohol Deregulation Bill Introduced in Congress


Date: 04/16/10

A bill introduced yesterday would “reaffirm and protect the primary authority of the states under the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to regulate alcoholic beverages,” according to the Wine & Sprits Wholesalers of America.

WSWA, which released a statement praising the bill’s introduction, said the bill “recognizes that alcohol is different from other consumer products – and, as such, should be treated differently.”
The bill--H.R. 5034--was introduced by Representative Bill Delahunt (D Mass) Mike Quigley (D Ill.), Howard Coble (RN. C.) and Jason Chaffetz (R Utah).

Click here for a preliminary draft of the legislation that was introduced yesterday.

The introduction of such legislation had been anticipated following a hastily called hearing which was held last month by the House Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

“America’s regulated three-tier system is – hands down – the best beverage alcohol distribution system in the world,” WSWA chief executive Craig Wolf said in the statement. “It stimulates innovation and competition and provides consumers with unprecedented choice and variety, requiring reasonable and appropriate regulations promoting temperance, ensuring effective state and federal tax collection and creating a safe and orderly market distributing beverage alcohol.

"It is important that states retain their constitutional power to regulate the distribution of beverage alcohol and are able to fend off litigation, which serves to destabilize or destroy that authority," Wolf said. "Although we may oppose direct shipping and self distribution as a matter of policy, our goal is not to overturn existing state laws. We simply believe the proper forum for resolving legitimate differences over these issues is in the state legislatures – not the courts.”

Earlier this week, Rep Mike Thompson (D-CA), co-chairman of the Congressional Wine Caucus, sent a note to  collegues saying that such legislation would "devastate California’s and other states’ wine industries, stunt economic growth, and harm consumers by allowing discriminatory law and regulation to be passed and go unchallenged."

"We urge our colleagues to join us in refraining from signing on to such legislation," Thompson said.

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