Senator Joan Conway, the head of the committee that would approve such legislation for a full vote, has decided she has “too many concerns,” to allow a vote. A vote on a bill supported by 106 of 188 Senators.
Her chief concern, she said, is that underage drinkers will tap the Internet for wine. There’s no way, she said, to force delivery agencies, whether the U.S. Postal Service or a private carrier, to verify the age of the person accepting a package.
The other problem, she said, is that it is difficult for state officials to collect taxes from out-of-state entities – or penalize faraway violators.
The fact that it’s an election year and she relies on support from liquor distributors? I’m sure that’s not a factor. Nor is that her husband is a city liquor inspector. She’s just looking out for the children…
Liquor lobbyists strongly oppose direct shipping of wine, saying it bypasses the state’s carefully crafted network of government entities that regulate the sale of alcohol. Developed just after the end of Prohibition in 1933, state law requires alcohol to pass from producer to wholesaler to retailer before it reaches the consumer.
“What do you think the liquor boards are for?” Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland, says of the bill.
The wine-shipping legislation would require manufacturers who import to be licensed, but Bereano says such a system would “not be a meaningful substitute” for liquor inspectors charged with the authority to shut down a business selling to underage customers.
…well, the children of the liquor distributors lobby, anyway. And holding out hope for someone else to step up and get past her blockade? Not likely.
All 188 lawmakers and Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, are up for election this fall, further imperiling the wine-shipping bill. According to a 2008 analysis by The Baltimore Sun, more than 80 percent of state legislators have received campaign contributions from the liquor lobby.
This has nothing to do with protecting children, and everything to do with protecting distributors, who’s revenues apparently are more important than the freedom of the people in Maryland.