7 Questions To Ask Wholesalers About H.R. 5034 at Hearings
In a teleconference today with Journalists and industry types, Representative Mike Thompson (D)-CA made clear his absolute opposition to H.R. 5034 and the efforts he is making to defeat it. There is no question that Representative Thompson is the champion of wineries, retailers and consumers on this issue.
Among the items Thompson addressed was the disposition of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership. Representative Thompson noted that Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership stand opposed to H.R. 5034, likely a testament to Thompson's powers of persuasiveness. In any case, this is good news for those who would be in opposition to H.R. 5034, the alcohol wholesalers bill that would essentially take state shipping laws outside the orbit of the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause and allow states to pass discriminatory alcohol laws that had no chance of being challenged in courts.
Representative Thompson was not able to say what the chances were that H.R. 5034 would have a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. He noted that the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the originators of the bill, continued to lobby very hard on Capital Hill and were putting great amounts of pressure on congresspeople.
If there are hearings in the House Judiciary Committee it will be very important that certain issues related to this bill be brought out in the open. This can happen via testimony, but it is much more effective to force wholesalers to answer the questions directly. Toward that end…
THE QUESTIONS ALCOHOL WHOLESALERS SHOULD BE ASKED AT A HEARING CONGRESSIONAL H.R 5034
1. What specific forms of deregulation have hit the states since Granholm that have been harmful to consumers? To States?
2. Is there any evidence that law enforcement has had a problem with wine getting into the hands of minors via direct shipment?
3. Under the provisions of H.R. 5034, could a state pass a law that allowed its own wineries to ship wine to its residents but discriminated against out-of-state wineries by banning shipments of their wines to residents?
4. There are now over 7000 wineries in the United States. Is it possible for wholesalers in any given state to represent all of them and, if not, how would wineries access that market without direct shipment of wine?
5. Is it true that under H.R. 5034, the only thing a state would have to do to defend a discriminatory ban on direct shipping from out of state wineries or retailers would be to simply state in the law that it is meant to uphold the three tier system?
6. What happens to the winery that once shipped wine directly to consumers in a state, but no longer can under laws made possible by H.R. 5034 and who also can't find a distributor to take them on?
7. I've heard numerous accounts from small wineries who have been told by retailers in another state that they would buy multiple cases of their wine, but that they must go through a wholesaler. But when the wineries asked a wholesaler to represent them and help them get the wine to the retailer, the wholesaler refused. Is there any other recourse that winery might have in order to sell it's goods? What would be the problem with allowing the winery to simply ship the wine directly to the retailer who wants it?