Proposed Michigan Bill To Fix Unconstitutional, Anti-Consumer Bans on Wine Shipping
March 04, 2020
(Lansing, MI)—Consumers across Michigan and the National Association of Wine Retailers applaud the introduction of SB 819 and HB 5579, companion bills that will finally allow Michigan consumers to receive shipments of wine from out-of-state wine retailers and wine clubs. Sponsored by Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Representative Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), the bill is a bi-partisan response to the protectionist and anti-consumer ban on consumers receiving wine shipments from out-of-state retailers and wine clubs.
Currently, Michiganders are barred from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores and clubs, even though shipments from out-of-state wineries as well as in-state retailers and wineries are allowed. Twice now Michigan federal courts have ruled Michigan’s ban on wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Michigan has spent over $1,000,000 defending the anti-consumer law.
“In an era when consumers can get everything from glasses to mattresses to razors and meal kits delivered right to their homes, this legislation just makes sense,” Sen. Mallory McMorrow said. “And more importantly, with Michiganders able to order from wineries and distilleries from around the country, these bills will expand much-needed tax revenue for the state, and allow local Michigan wineries and distilleries to grow their businesses by selling direct to Michiganders all around the state and delivering right to their doorsteps.”
Bill Proposes Wine Retailer Shipments In the Same Manner as Winery Shipments
If it becomes law, SB819/HB5579 will require out-of-state wine and spirit shippers to register with the State of Michigan, remit Michigan sales tax, file regular reports with the state on what has been shipped into the state, obtain an adult signature at the time of delivery, limit the amount of wine and spirits an out-of-state retailer may ship to a Michigan consumer, and submit themselves to the legal and regulatory jurisdiction of the state of Michigan—all the same conditions under which out-of-state wineries deliver wine to Michigan consumers.
“The current law banning consumers from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers has cost the state millions of dollars in litigation costs and lost tax revenue, not to mention restricting the type of wines Michigan consumers may legally purchase,” said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers. “Moreover, the bipartisan support for the bill is an indication that the current anti-consumer ban on wine shipments is repugnant no matter where you are on the political spectrum.”
“Fairness is not a partisan issue,” said Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland). “Fairness isn’t just a concept, it’s constitutional.”
Current Ban on Wine Shipments From Out-of-State Stores Ruled Unconstitutional
In 2008, a Michigan Federal Court ruled Michigan’s discriminatory ban on retailer wine shipments was unconstitutional. The response was to strike back at consumers by barring all shipments from both in-state and out-of-state retailers. In 2016 the discriminatory law was reinstituted by the Legislature after the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers assured lawmakers that this time a discriminatory wine shipping ban would not be ruled unconstitutional. The law as ruled unconstitutional in 2019 when Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow wrote, “Michigan...is operating an unjustifiable protectionist regime in its consumer wine market, a privilege unsanctioned by the Twenty-First Amendment and forbidden by the Commerce Clause [of the U.S. Constitution].”
“Michigan Consumers deserve to have access to the products they want and this bill assures they have this access,” said Wark. “Our hope is that Michigan lawmakers will side with consumers rather than the special interests who demand to be protected from competition.”