Bad MA Wine Shipping Bill Unlikely to Pass in 2012
The odds are very good that the state of Massachusetts will end its annual legislative session without passing a direct shipping bill. The end of the 2012 MA legislative session is at 11:59pm on Tuesday July 31. Currently, H 1029, a bill that would partially legalize direct shipping in the state sits in the Consumer Protection Committee…dong nothing. For passage, the Committee will need to vote out the bill, then the bill needs to be voted upon in the House and Senate.
It has been since 2010 that the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Family Winemakers v. Jenkins that the current MA state wine shipping law was unconstitutional. Yet the lawmakers have been unable to pass any fix to that little problem.
The current bill received a hearing in May 2011, yet nothing has happened since.
The bill is in fact not a very good one. Under its provisions, consumers in the state would be prohibited from having imported wines shipped to them from out of state. That means no French, Italian, German, Austrian, Spanish or any other imported wines could be ordered by consumers since the bill does not allow out of state retailers to ship into the state. Rather, only out-of-state wineries would have the privilege. Wineries support this half-hearted bill.
Nevertheless, back in December 2011, MA governor Deval Patrick said if the bill came to him, he would sign it into law. However, the state legislature has a lot to deal with between now and the end of the session on Turesday. Among those issues in an important healthcare reform bill.
If the bill, as seems likely, does not pass in 2012, it is likely to return next year. Whether it can be fixed so that a direct shipping law gives MA wine lovers real access to wine, whether imported or domestic, is unknown. We will be watching developments on this one.