Sunday, March 7, 2010

The GrapeVine Is In The House

Don't know if you know it or not but, it's a felony to ship wine to the state of Maryland. You read that correctly, a FELONY. And shipping your wine to VA, then bringing it over the bridge to your house in Maryland without paying any taxes on it....FELONY!! Some of you all should be locked up, LOL! I think this law is crazy so on Friday, I gave oral testimony before the House Economic Matters Committee in support of HB 716 - Direct Wine Shipper's License.

There was a great showing in support of HB 716, but then a few that opposed it. Their reasons were: 1) the direct shipping of wine to consumers in MD would devastate the smaller wine retailers in the state, 2) minors would use the direct shipping to obtain wine illegally, and 3) the state government does not believe that they would get their share of the taxes from direct to consumer wine sales.

For my first experience in any type of bill hearing or anything of that nature, this wasn’t too bad. Quite long, but since I am very passionate about wine and about being able to have what I want legally shipped to me, I didn’t mind that so much. I sat in the hearing for about 4 hrs listening to the arguments for the pros and cons of this bill. People were arguing to the death that minors would be buying wine online….but I don’t know any underage drinker that is going to wait a few days to have some wine shipped to them when they can just get an adult to buy it for them in about 10 mins! But I won’t even bring that whole thing up again.

My main issue with the blocking of this bill is, what about Maryland wineries? Everyone was so concerned with the retailers losing business, but how much business has been lost to MD wineries because they can’t ship wine to people that live in their own state??!!! Black Ankle Vineyards and St. Michaels Winery were there to represent for the hometown wineries. They both mentioned that new jobs and new revenue streams would be created for the state if the shipping bill were to pass.

I know this is an uphill battle with many whom oppose this bill but by speaking to my Delegate and providing written and oral testimony…I’m doing what I can to try and make a difference.

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