Is The Deadly Wine Bill HR 1161 Dead?
Reports from Shanken Daily News (SDN) are that H.R. 1161, the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act, often referred to as "The CARE Act, is "off the table". SDN quotes Republic National Distributing President Tom Cole as saying, “The CARE Act is officially off the table."
SDN reports that this development came about when the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America met with the Distilled Spirits Counsel of the United States in Palm Beach, Florida in February and decided to pursue a "rapprochement" over the issue and to work more closely together to advance common interests.
What "off the table" means is something we have to wait and see. Next week the National Beer Wholesalers of America (NBWA), who have been the most vocal proponents of H.R. 1161 and the idea that free trade is a bad idea, will be holding their annual legislative conference in Washington, DC where beer wholesalers from across the country converge on DC to speak with and try to influence lawmakers. Their access is no doubt granted due to the millions of dollars the NBWA have given to Washington lawmakers.
In a recent interview with DCbeer.com, NBWA president Craig Purser was asked what what initiatives his organization was working on and what they hoped to accomplish at the upcoming Legislative Conference. His response does not inspire confidence that the beer wholesalers think H.R. 1161 is "off the table":
"Over the last five years, we’ve spent a lot of time concerned about litigation against the states that would threaten that independent 3-tier system. So part of our messaging to Congress is going to be to ensure that they understand that states ought to be the primary regulator of this system, because it’s state laws that help level the playing field between big and small market participants."
Will trying to get Congress to understand that states ought to be the primary regulator of "This System" amount to continuing to lobby for passage of H.R. 1161? We'll see. Suffice to say the above response by Purser sounds a great deal like a person who would like to convince congress to pass the CARE Act.
The problems with H.R. 1161 have been laboriously catalogued. To say the least, its passage would have a significant and devastating impact on consumer access to wine and on the critical principle of a single economic union that was the basis of the writing of the Constitution.
Confirmation of the demise of H.R. 1161 is probably important right now and that would best come in the form of statements from Purser, from the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America as well as form the Representative Jason Chaffetz (UT), the bill's chief sponsor. If in fact the bill is dead and off the table, this would be great news for consumers.