As I have posted about before, I, like many other wine lovers in Massachusetts, wish we had the ability to receive shipments of wine directly from out of state wineries. There are plenty of wineries which do not or cannot sell their wines in Massachusetts but which we would like to be able to purchase. For example, some small wineries just don't have the ability and time to distribute their wines across the country. Ordering such wines directly from the winery is the only way to get the wines, besides visiting the winery itself. However, we cannot do so because the legislature can't get their act together and pass a constitutional law which would allow such shipments.
Seven years ago, in 2006, a law was passed that barred many such shipments from entering Massachusetts but it was later ruled unconstitutional, a decision affirmed by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Since that appeals decision on January 2010, several efforts have been instituted to create a legal framework allowing out of state winery shipments. To date, despite the passionate advocacy of groups such as Free The Grapes, all such efforts have failed but there is still hope that something will finally get done.
Currently, House Bill 294, authored by Representative Theodore Speliotis and introduced in January 2013, is in the committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure and it will finally receive a hearing tomorrow, on Tuesday, November 12, sometime between 1pm-6pm at the Gardner Auditorium at the State House. Free The Grapes states: "House Bill 294 follows the provisions of the model direct shipping bill, which is working successfully in a majority of states. Wineries purchase a license to ship from the state and follow its provisions such as paying taxes, limiting the amount shipped, etc."
House Bill 294 isn't perfect, and the American Wine Consumer Coalition has outlined some of the problems with the bill in The Guide to Consumer Wine Shipments in Massachusetts. The bill could be amended to address these problems and make the bill better, but that also requires consumer input, to support the bill and point out any such problems. And that is where Massachusetts residents need to take immediate action.
Sure, you can attend the public hearing tomorrow, though as many of you work, that might be difficult. However, you can more easily help out with a simple email or telephone call.
Free The Grapes recommends that you email the Committee by contacting Mr. Brian T. Cronin, a research analyst at the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell Brian what you think about House Bill 294, and tell him how much you want the ability to be able to ship wines to Massachusetts. Let your feelings be known. It will only take a few minutes to send an email so there is little excuse not to do so.
The American Wine Consumer Coalition also has some excellent valuable advice on how you can support this Bill. First, they recommend calling the Committee Chairman, Sen. Thomas Kennedy, and telling him of your support. They even provide his phone number for you. Second, they provide you a sample email to send to all of the Committee members, along with all of their email addresses. It would only take a minute or so to send out that email.
Take a little time today to call or email these individuals, to lend your support to House Bill 294, and to tell them of your concerns which should lead to amendments to the Bill. It is urgent that you do so today, before tomorrow's Committee meeting. This is a vital issue for all wine lovers and it will only take you a brief moment out of your time to lend your support. Collectively, wine lovers can make their concerns be heard.