New Wine Bill In Congress Takes Aim at Consumers
What was hr 5034 last year is now HR 1161. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) from Utah is the main sponsor. HR 1161 is identical to the second version of last year's bill.
If passed, HR 1161 would give states complete protection from legal challenges if they pass laws that:
-Discriminate against out-of-state retailers from shipping wine into a state to consumers
-Only allow wineries of a certain size to ship in wine
-Give locally made wine, beer and spirit products tax exemptions while charging them to out of state products
And this is just the start of the kind of anti-consumer, anti-free trade laws that wholesalers have long pushed for and often received.
The problem is that the three-tier system gives local wholesalers HUGE market protection that leads to unearned profits that result from protection from competition. These profits are then used to pour millions of dollars on to state legislators who then do their bidding. Out of state wineries and retailers can't compete with that and the wholesalers know it. By passing HR 1161 they assure there can never be any court challenges to laws that without HR 1161 would be subject to a challenge on Commerce Clause grounds.
It's as though the wholesalers are admiting that without state-mandated welfare, they can't compete in a free market and they are willing to screw consumers, wineries, retailers, distillers, and brewers in order to keep their cushy, unearned, state-protected profits.
What can you do?
1. CALL YOUR CONGRESS PERSON NOW—THIS MINUTE—AND TELL THEM "DON'T SUPPORT HR 1161—"THE WHOLESALER PROTECTION ACT".
2. JOIN "STOPHR1161" ON FACEBOOK AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD THAT THIS BILL WILL SEVERELY REDUCE CONSUMER ACCESS TO WINE AND GIVE WHOLESALERS AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE OVER THEIR COMPETITORS.
3. IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A WINERY, BREWEY, RETAILER OR DISTILLER ASSOCIATION, MAKE SURE THEY ARE MAKING THEIR VOICE HEARD BY THEIR CONGRESSPEOPLE AND THE MEDIA.
Craig Wolf, President of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America said this while applauding the introduction of HR 1161:
"It is important for our supplier, importer and retailer partners to understand that we don’t consider this an ‘intra-industry’ squabble. This is not ‘us versus them.’ After all, no legitimate player in the industry feels litigation is an appropriate method for establishing or altering alcohol policy."
He's right. THIS IS NOT AN "INTRA-INDUSTRY" squabble.
It is a Consumer vs. Wholesaler battle since in the end it is consumers who will be most hurt by this legislation. This is the legislation that paves the way for wholesalers to use all their might to force consumers to live in the wine commerce world of the 1930s and to force them to choose from fewer and fewer products that only they provide.
If you are a consumer, winery, distiller, brewer or retailer and you want something to get angry about and fight…HR 1161 is it.