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New Yorkers Send Powerful Message To Albany To Stop Wine Sales In Grocery Stores

Source: MPSA
Jun 14th
Tens of Thousands Sign Petition, Send Postcards in Opposition to Dangerous Plan

The Last Store on Main Street coalition today announced that more than 21,500 New Yorkers have signed petitions and sent postcards to Governor Cuomo and members of the State Legislature in opposition to the Big Box stores’ job-killing plan to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores, gas stations, delis, bodegas and anywhere beer is now sold.

If implemented, this change would devastate Mom-and-Pop wine stores and stunt the growth of small New York wineries, costing the state thousands of valuable middle class jobs. Additionally, the sale of wine in 19,000 new outlets would give teenagers greater access to high-alcohol products – resulting in a heightened risk of underage drinking and fatal drunk driving accidents.

“The Legislature has more than 20,000 new reasons to reject this misguided and dangerous plan,” said Jeff Saunders, Last Store founder and president of the Retailers Alliance. “This ill-conceived plan would close more than 1,000 small businesses, resulting in the loss of more than 4,000 valuable New York jobs. This plan would only benefit Big Box stores, shipping profits out of state and leaving thousands of New Yorkers without work. That is bad for New York and bad for our economy. The Legislature rejected this dangerous plan two years in a row, now they have the opportunity to send the greedy Big Box stores home for good.”

“While the Big Box stores have spent millions to fool New Yorkers into thinking WIGS will save the economy, the Legislature knows that this job-killer would hurt Main Streets across New York State,” said Stefan Kalogridis, coalition leader and president of the New York State Liquor Store Association. “Supermarkets would not create one new job just because they could stock wine instead of noodles on one of their shelves. In fact, they would put thousands of New Yorkers out of work just to boost corporate profits.”

“The Big Box stores and their allies like to argue that WIGS will help bolster the New York wine industry, but the reality is just the opposite,” said Michael Correra coalition leader and executive director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association. “Grocery stores won’t worry about stocking quality, local wine; instead, they will stock their shelves with cheap imported wines, once again sending profits out of New York State. The best way to lift the wine industry is for the retailers and the wine producers to work together with the State to promote local wines.”
No state in nearly three decades has passed legislation to allow wine in grocery stores, and at a time when the Legislature is taking measures to limit access to dangerous alcoholic beverages like Four Loko, passing WIGS would be a step in the wrong direction.

Following a recent hearing into the public health impacts of WIGS, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Chairman of the Assembly’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, said he remains firmly opposed to WIGS. “The testimony that I heard at this hearing confirmed that easy access to alcohol poses a serious threat to the wellbeing of our young people. We cannot allow this to happen. We have a responsibility to be proactive in identifying the prevention programs that are most successful and doing what is necessary to be sure that they are available to protect young people throughout our state.

“We currently have a problem, and making alcohol available in more locations is in direct contradiction of what is needed,” Chairman Cymbrowitz said. “It is asking for more DWI’s, suicides, unplanned pregnancies, STD’s violence and truancy.”

The Last Store on Main Street coalition is a group of small business advocates, local wine store owners, New York wineries, law enforcement, wholesalers, distributors and unions that came together in 2009 to fight the dangerous proposal to allow wine sales in 19,000 new outlets in New York State, which include grocery stores, gas stations, bodegas, delis and anywhere else beer is now sold.

Why Is Congress So Afraid of Mail Order Wine?

Source: Fox News

By: Angela Logomasini

Date: September 29, 2010

The quest by wine and beer wholesalers to maintain their “middleman” role within the liquor industry is simply bad news. A bill making its way through the House (H.R. 5034) sponsored by Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) supports wholesalers’ promises to limit consumer choice and disadvantage retailers, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and importers.

The topic is the subject of hearings before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. Not surprisingly, wholesalers hope this legislation will protect the “three-tier system” for distribution of alcohol, which nearly all states impose. The system requires that alcohol producers (wineries, distillers, brewers, and importers) sell only to wholesalers, who in turn market the products to retailers. It thereby bans any mutually beneficial sales between retailers (wine shops, restaurants, etc) and wineries or other producers that could enhance product selection and save money for consumers.

H.R. 5034 strikes back against market liberalization that the Supreme Court fostered with its ruling in Granholm v. Heald. In that case, the Court ruled that laws in Michigan and New York violated the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The laws essentially banned shipments from out-of-state wineries to New York and Michigan residents, but allowed the wineries in those states to ship wine. The court held that any such regulations must apply equally to in-state and out-of-state businesses.

Since then, many states have begun allowing direct-to-consumer wine shipping. Richard Mendelson, wine lawyer and author of “From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America,” notes: “Within two and half years of ‘Granholm,’ eleven states had leveled up, and none had leveled down completely. Those states had to open their borders to all direct shipping or close them entirely.” This increased freedom has been a boon to consumers who otherwise would have fewer options. It also helps wineries who have trouble marketing specialty products in a world of increasing competition and consolidation among wholesalers.

But the logic of “Granholm” should also apply to retailers, who are now fighting in federal courts for the right to skip the wholesaler tier. The nation’s largest wine retailer-Costco-has gained a partial victory in Washington state and is helping advance a ballot initiative there that would basically break Washington state’s three-tier mandates.

Wholesalers fear the spread of such deregulation. “Direct-to-consumer shipments will never drive a wholesaler out of business, but the deregulation it is fostering will,” noted Craig Wolf of the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America in a 2007 issue of The American. Accordingly, wholesalers have been spending millions in PAC donations to members of Congress, pushing them to pass H.R. 5034. The bill would exercise Congress’s constitutional power to regulate commerce by explicitly allowing states to impose regulations would otherwise violate the Commerce Clause.

As introduced, the bill would have allowed states to pass pretty much any regulation they desired, but a scaled-down substitute version that Rep. Delahunt is expected to offer today remains problematic. Tom Wark of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association points out that this draft opens the door to a host of directly discriminatory state regulations focused on retailers, which could ultimately limit consumers’ online buying options.

But consumers who buy direct from wineries or breweries should remain concerned. In addition to curbing freedoms for retailers, the new draft could also bolster state laws that indirectly discriminate against producers. In other words, it might allow discriminatory tax policies or other regulations that would make direct shipping less viable.

Not only is this legislation bad for consumer freedom, it isn’t necessary to “save” the wholesaler business. Wholesalers will not disappear without a mandated three-tier system. In fact, wholesalers do well in places like California and Washington, D.C. where there are no such mandates. Wholesalers exist because they provide a valuable service in getting products to market-but they should have to compete for their place like everyone else.

A key reason the founders drafted the Constitution was to prevent trade impediments between states and maximize individual freedom. Using Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause to impede commerce simply to serve one-special interest is pure folly.

Angela Logomasini, Ph.D. in American Politics, is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Learn more about state alcohol laws here.

Early evenings proposed for New York outdoor drinkers

A bill introduced by Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman may require rooftop bars to close early. All bars on rooftops that are on buildings that are less than 10 stories and any establishment that serves alcohol with rear yards that are within 500 feet of residential property would be required to close at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10 p.m. every other evening. The proposal would also require that establishments get a permit to show they have waiter service and have no amplified music playing. This bill is a reaction to numerous complaints made by constituents. Restaurant owners oppose the bill as closing early could impact their sales.

To learn more about how establishments may be impacted visit servingalcohol.com.

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