Lawmakers Roger Wine Consumers and Retailers in Michigan

There is Shamelessness and then there i Shamefulness. While the Michigan wine wholesalers and Michigan Representatives Barbara Farrah and Chris Ward certainly possess the former, its the latter that they put on display today when they all worked together to introduce a Bill and pass it out of committee with the intent that no one would see them do it.

HB 6644 would strip Michigan retailers of their long held right to ship wine to Michigan residents via a common carrier as well as deliver it to customers using their own delivery vehicles. The bill, if it becomes law, will be a tragic disregard for, and slap across the face of, Michigan retailers—all for the purpose of protecting Michigan wholesalers from competition.

The very secretive bill that got rammed through the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee today was inspired by a Michigan Federal District Court decision from September 30th that ruled Michigan's prohibition on consumers purchasing wine from out-of-state retailers was unconstitutional. Basing her decision on the 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court Decision, Judge Donna Hood ruled that the state violated the U.S. Constitution by allowing its in-state retailers to ship to Michigan residents but prohibiting out of state retailers from doing the same.

While the wholesalers and the Attorney General both appealed the decision, it appears today that they realized their chance of winning that appeal was virtually nil. So, they decided the best thing to do was screw Michigan retailers as hard as they could by finding well paid state representatives to introduce the bill yesterday under the cover of darkness, then announce one hour before the hearing today that it would be discussed. No time at all for any consumers or retailers to mount any opposition.

What's shameful is that the Representatives Farrah and Ward, along with Michigan Liquor Control Commission Chairperson Nida Somona, were willing to hold the arms and legs of Michigan retailers and consumers and pin them down on the ground while the Michigan wine wholesalers went about rogering them good.

This kind of secretive politics engaged in by powerful businesses and encouraged by state officials is exactly why citizens are so cynical about politics.

HB 6644 still needs to come to a vote on the floor of the Michigan House. After that a companion bill in the Senate will need to be passed and then the Governor will need to sign the bill for it to become law.

If any readers know any Michigan residents that, upon hearing about this unethical turn of events, would be inclined to write the State Representative and ask them to vote against the bill when it comes to the house floor, they should point them to the Michigan House Representative Finder where they can determine who their State Representative is and what their phone and email address is.

In the mean time, I can't see any reason why anyone from any state might not want to express there outrage not necessarily at the content of this bill but at the fact that public officials like Nida Sonoma, Representative Barbara Farrah and Representative Chris Ward would be willing to support such an unethical attempt to take citizens and stakeholders out of the legislative process by helping push forward a secretive hearing that was meant to do one thing: make sure no one knew it was happening.

If you are interested in Expressing Yourself:

Representative Barbara Farrah (main sponsor): [email protected]
Representative Chris Ward (co-sponsor): [email protected]

Commissioner Nida Somona: :[email protected]


6 Responses

  1. Emily - November 13, 2008

    I’d say that’s incredible, but….
    Seems we have not yet hit bottom in this battle.

  2. Thomas Pellechia - November 14, 2008

    In Michigan, the whole thing is made more difficult because the public is starving–literally–for employment. Right now, the economy in that state is so bad you’d think the politicians would be doing anything they can to make doing business there easier for everyone and not just for lobbyists.

  3. The 45th - November 14, 2008

    if it weren’t shameful enough — tomorrow (Nov 15th)is the opening day of deer season in Michigan and a tremendous number of people are away from any and all means of learning about this dastardly act or voicing their displeasure about it.

  4. Joel Goldberg - November 15, 2008

    The Wholesalers and their legislative lackeys have acquired a great deal of political skill since 2005, when their bill to ban winery shipping (also introduced by the very well-paid Rep. Ward) ran into a firestorm of media and consumer opposition. Their solution: this time, slip the bill into a lame duck session the day before hunting season and hold the “public” hearing on 15 minutes notice without any members of the public present.
    A great display of last-century style power politics, but a pretty shoddy deal for our state’s retailers and consumers.

  5. Joel Goldberg - November 15, 2008

    By the way — nice picture, Tom…

  6. Dylan - November 16, 2008

    I don’t know if the flaw is with the people involved or the system. It’s one thing they utilized a method to keep everyone in the dark, but it’s even more distressing that the system allows for a method like that to be possible.
    How can people be involved with politics if there are ways of exclusion? I guess this post is a good start.

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