New All Out Attack On Wine Merchants Launched With H.R. 5034
A new version of H.R. 5034, the bill alcohol wholesalers are using to try to protect their monopoly on alcohol distribution, has been re-written by wholesalers and dutifully introduced by its sponsor, Rep. Bill Delahunt.
The new version of H.R. 5034 is a direct attack on America's wine stores and wine merchants. If this version of H.R. 5034 is passed it will allow states to legally discriminate against out-of-state wine merchants in numerable ways. It must be opposed.
The new language (
Download New HR 5034 language) in the new version of H.R. 5034 reads this way:
"State or territorial regulations may not intentionally or facially discriminate against out-of-state or out-of-territory producers of alcoholic beverages in favor of in-state or in-territory producers unless the State or territory can demonstrate that the challenged law advances a legitimate local purpose that cannot be adequately served by reasonable non-discriminatory alternatives."
What's critical in this language is that it says only out-of-state PRODUCERS may not face intentional or facial discrimination. In other words, the new version of H.R. 5034 specifically allows states to discriminate in any way they want against out-of-state WINE STORES or WINE MERCHANTS.
Rep. Delahunt, in his letter to the Chairman of the House judiciary committee explaining his changes to the text of H.R. 5034, says that this kind of discrimination was always congressional intent:
"the revised language reaffirms longstanding congressional intent that states do indeed have the primary authority to regulate alcohol within their borders so long as those regulations are not facially or intentionally discriminatory to an out-of-state manufacturer."
Let's be clear: NEITHER REPRESENTATIVE DELAHUNT NOR ANYONE ELSE CAN FIND ANY EVIDENCE TO EVEN SUGGEST IT WAS THE INTENT OF CONGRESS TO ONLY PROTECT MANUFACTURERS OF ALCOHOL AND NOT VENDORS OR MERCHANTS OF ALCOHOL FROM STATE DISCRIMINATION.
No where in the debates over the 21st Amendment, the Wilson Act nor the Webb-Kenyon Act was there even a hint that only out-of-state manufacturers of wine and other forms of alcohol were the only entities to be protected from discrimination by states.
The consequences of H.R. 5034 passing in this form are severe:
1. States will be empowered to discriminate against out of state wine stores by prohibiting them from shipping wine to consumers, while allowing their in-state stores to do so. This will severely reduce the wines consumers have access to, particularly imported wines and collectible wine.
2. It would entirely remove wine stores from protection by the Commerce Clause. Entirely!
3. If states were to allow out-of-state wine stores to ship to consumers in their state, they could impose huge fees and taxes on only those out-of-state wine stores.
4. States could prohibit non-resident wine stores from setting up more than one store in their state while allowing in-state wine stores to set up many stores.
Essentially, under this new version of H.R. 5034, states are empowered to discriminate against inter-state commerce by out-of-state wine stores in any manner they want because it removes retailers from protection under the Commerce Clause of the United States.
There is no conceivable rationale for treating wine stores in this way and every consumer, every winery and every retailer in America should oppose what can only be called AN ALL OUT ATTACK ON AMERICAN WINE MERCHANTS.