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Nebraska Tightens up Existing Direct Shipping Law

LB 230 passed Nebraska’s unicameral legislature and was signed by the Governor on April 24, 2013. The new law will go into effect on September 6, 2013. Nebraska is currently open to direct shipping from wineries and retailers (although there was some debate recently as to whether retailers should qualify under the current law), with easy-to-navigate regulations. The new law introduces several new restrictions that Nebraska direct shippers should be aware of before the new law goes into effect.

Though the bill’s statement of intent indicated that only manufacturers (wineries) would be able to obtain a license, after amendments to the bill, retailers were added back in and will be eligible for the Nebraska direct shipping license. So, at the end of the day (following a confusing set of hearings and deliberations) currently licensed wineries and retailers will both be able to continue to ship to Nebraska consumers, but with added complexity and requirements.

Direct shippers will see several marked changes to rules and licensing processes. Here’s a quick breakdown of these and other requirements in the new law – additional descriptions follow below:


Item Before
Sept. 6
After
September 6
Nexus status Not required In addition to requiring sales tax payments (common for direct shipping law), the potential to trigger additional tax obligations exists
Brand identification Not required Retailers and manufacturers may "only ship the brands of alcoholic liquor identified on the application
Distributor notification Not required Manufacturers (but not retailers) must notify Nebraska distributors carrying the identified brands, of the manufacturer’s intent to apply for a direct shipping license.
Notification of any violations Not required “…the applicant agrees to notify the commission of any violations in the state in which he or she is domiciled and any violations of the direct shipping laws of any other states…”
Non-sellable products Not required Required. Shippers may “…not ship any alcoholic liquor products that the manufacturers or wholesalers licensed in Nebraska have voluntarily agreed not to bring into Nebraska at the request of the commission;”
Excise tax Annual filing Monthly filing
Common carrier approval Not required Required

Under current regulations, it was somewhat unclear whether or not direct shippers were required to register to pay sales taxes, though most direct shippers did. The establishment of nexus under the new law could also mean that, in addition to requiring sales tax registration (common for direct shipping law), there is a potential to trigger additional tax obligations. Brand listings will be required as part of the licensing process, and wineries (but not retailers) must notify their Nebraska distributors carrying the listed brands of the manufacturer’s intent to apply for a direct shipping license. If a Nebraska manufacturer or wholesaler volunteers not to sell certain products within Nebraska’s borders, direct shippers would also not be allowed to sell those products under the new law. Furthermore, direct shipper applicants will have to notify the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission of any violations of direct shipping laws of any other states and any violations in the state in which the shipper is domiciled.

Many of the new laws will require clarification as to how currently licensed direct shippers should proceed in order to remain licensed and compliant – for example, will existing licensees have to notify distributors of their existing direct shipping license on Sept 6, or will this new requirement take effect once their current license expires in April? As we get closer to the September effective date, we will notify our clients and readers of any published guidelines or additional information.

October 1st Brings New Direct Wine Shipping Regulations to Montana

Montana House Bill 402 was signed by Governor Bullock on April 12, 2013 and creates workable direct wine shipping laws in the state. The new law, effective on October 1, 2013, will replace the flawed consumer licensing system presently in place for wine shipping in Montana.

Current regulations require that out-of-state wineries ship only to residents who hold a “Connoisseur’s License“; proof of the consumer license and a special sticker to affix to the shipping box must be provided to the winery before the shipment can be made. The new regulations will require out-of-state wineries to:

  • Register as a Foreign Winery or Importer. Many wineries already hold this license as it allows a winery to sell to a Montana distributor (cost of license is $0 to $400 annually, depending on volume sold in Montana; no-cost product registrations are required as part of becoming licensed)
  • Apply for a $50 annual direct shipping endorsement
  • Supply to Montana the name and address of any utilized fulfillment warehouses
  • Submit written acknowledgement of contracting only with common carriers that agree to deliver wine only to individuals who are of age and who provide a signature upon delivery
  • Ship no more than 18 cases of wine annually to an individual consumer (up from 12 cases/year)
  • Submit excise tax and shipment reports by the 15th of every month

While Montana’s regulations for direct wine shipments are changing, the connoisseur’s licensing system remains in place for shipments of beer from out-of-state breweries. UPS and FedEx, however, do not accept shipments of beer or spirits for delivery to consumers.

We will keep you informed of any updates from the Montana Liquor Control Division regarding the endorsement process once the details become available.

North Dakota Makes Direct Shipping Easier for Wineries and Retailers

North Dakota legislature has passed, and its Governor has signed into law on April 1, new legislation that will allow wine orders to be shipped from any fulfillment house that obtains a North Dakota “logistics shipper” license, require licensure of common carriers, and make other related changes to the state’s direct shipping law. These new requirements will take effect on August 1, 2013.

North Dakota notified direct shippers that wine shipments could only be shipped from the licensee’s premises back in April of 2010. Fulfillment houses, from which almost half of all direct shipments originate, were not allowed to ship on behalf of the licensee, despite the fact that California considers fulfillment houses with public warehouse licenses (Type 14) to be an extension of the winery’s premises. With the passage of this bill, licensed wineries and retailers will once again be able to use this much valued function of wine shipping.

North Dakota isn’t the only state to restrict the use of third party and shipping services —

  • Virginia imposed restrictions on shipments from fulfillment houses in 2009, but established regulations to allow it last November. Virginia now requires out-of-state fulfillment houses to become approved, submit signed winery-fulfillment house contracts to the state, and remit periodic shipment reports.
  • New Hampshire enacted a bill in 2011 that not only created a common carrier license, but also created a “black list” of unauthorized shippers from which FedEx and UPS cannot deliver without penalty.

New regulations and laws in New Hampshire, Virginia and North Dakota give these states additional resources and tools to track shipments, enforce direct shipping rules and collect tax on all shipments.

In addition to becoming licensed, fulfillment houses and common carriers wishing to ship wine into North Dakota will be required to report shipments on a monthly basis and will be subject to penalties if they fulfill and/or ship orders from unlicensed warehouses or suppliers. Also, licensed direct shippers will be required to report their use of fulfillment houses in preparing direct shipments. The Alcohol Tax Section of the North Dakota Office of the State Tax Commissioner has already begun drafting license application and reporting forms and plans to make these available ahead of the August 1 effective date in order to give potential licensees time to review the new requirements.

Until the new law takes effect, out-of-state direct wine shippers should continue to ship from their licensed premises. As the August 1 date gets closer, we will keep our clients and readers informed of specifics related to the new regulations.

To Stay Afloat, Here is a Life Buoy of Wine Compliance Legislative Updates

As the snow melts here in Boulder, it’s time for a status update on the direct shipping bills we expected to see in 2013, as well as other notable legislation.

1. How are Direct Shipping Bills Stacking Up?

Massachusetts has seen six direct shipping bills introduced this session, and though there hasn’t been much movement yet, HB 294 has the most promise – especially since former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe has recently announced his support for this direct shipping bill.

Pennsylvania currently has three direct shipping bills under consideration: HB 121, SB 36, and SB 101. Only HB 121 has moved out of committee, but all three bills are being considered as part of the privatization push in the state. These bills will move forward if and when an agreement is reached on which portions of the modernization efforts are going to be moved independently from one another. Currently, all three of these bills include the very high “Johnstown Flood Tax” rates – 18% to 24%. The Wine Institute is working to negotiate a lower tax rate before passage of any of these three bills occurs.

Montana, which is effectively closed to direct shipping because of the problematic “connoisseur’s license” system, should see a change when HB 402 is made law. The legislation would replace the wine connoisseur’s license with a direct shipping “supplement”, available to Montana wineries and to out-of-state wineries holding an Importer License. Breweries, however, would still be subject to connoisseur license regulations. HB 402 has passed both the House and Senate, and is on its way to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.

Arkansas’ House and Senate passed HB 1749, a very restrictive direct shipping bill sponsored by the Speaker of the House. The bill was signed by Governor Mike Beebe on March 21, 2013, turning it into law. Act 483 will open up “direct shipping” to Arkansas consumers by wineries that obtain a $25 annual permit. All orders must be placed in person, at the winery; internet orders will not be allowed. Additionally, permit holders may only ship one case per calendar quarter to an individual’s residence only, state sales taxes and excise taxes must be paid, and a special label provided by the ABC at the cost of no more than $10 per label must be on all shipments.

In Delaware, HB 60 was introduced on March 21, 2013; this bill would allow wineries to ship 12 cases annually under a new $100 permit program. Excise taxes would be paid quarterly, and carriers would be required to obtain a permit as well.

A direct shipping bill was introduced in South Dakota earlier this legislative session, but SB 100 has been tabled for the year.

2. COLA Processing at TTB Shifts to Electronic

In keeping with their word to streamline the label submission and approval process, the TTB has revamped their website and included several helpful resources on their labeling page, including a table with up-to-date information on label processing times. Additionally, on February 1, 2013, the TTB began processing paper COLA submissions in the same way they process electronic submissions; paper submissions are scanned into the system and the TTB will notify applicants of approval or rejection via email, if an email address is listed on the application. Industry Circular Number 2012-03 contains more detailed information on this change. We expect more changes to the COLA process as the year progresses. Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant will be moderating a panel called “COLA Changes on the Horizon” at the NCSLA annual conference in June.

3. Pennsylvania’s Privatization and Modernization

The latest news on modernization centers on HB 790 – a bill that calls for and addresses privatization of the sale of alcohol in the state of Pennsylvania. Though there are several accompanying bills that supplement Pennsylvania’s privatization plan, this bill is leading the charge for ending Pennsylvania’s status as a control state. HB 790 addresses how the state should make the changeover to private distribution & retail sale of alcohol, what should occur in the interim, and what should be the end result of a privatized system. Currently, this bill has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

4. Third Party Marketing

Two bills were introduced to limit third party marketing in Maryland: HB 1420 and SB 990. These bills contained the following language: “An order may not be transmitted to the holder of the direct wine shipper’s permit by a retailer, a wholesaler, or any other third party, including a marketplace site on the internet in which sellers offer products to customers.” Following a hearing on SB 990, the author has withdrawn the bill, and the author of the House bill no longer intends to move HB 1420 forward either. Defeating both of these bills took a great deal of work by lobbyists working in Maryland on behalf of the wineries and the third party companies.

5. Existing Direct Shipping Laws, Reworked

Nebraska currently allows wineries and retailers to apply for a direct shipping license. LB 230, a bill that would add restrictions to the current process, originally contained language to eliminate access of direct shipments from retailers including online retailers. However, after two amendments, the bill creates a direct shipping license for both wineries and retailers. If passed, wineries (but not retailers) would be required to “identify” the brands they will ship to Nebraska consumers, and submit “notification to wholesalers of intent to direct ship” any brands that are also sold to Nebraska wholesalers. Both wineries and retailers would be subject to a status of nexus (likely requiring payment of corporate income taxes) and monthly excise tax reports (currently an annual filing). As of March 15, this bill is in Committee. Wine Institute is opposing LB 230.

SB 15 in Indiana was intended to help wineries that direct ship into the state, but fails to address all of the existing direct to consumer limitations. The bill would remove the “previous visit” requirement by consumers before direct shippers can send wine shipments. However, a new requirement to obtain a faxed or scanned copy of the consumers identification would be required. Also, wineries with a wholesale relationship are still not eligible for the direct shipping license in this bill. For these reasons, Wine Institute is opposing the bill at this time. Currently in Senate Committee.

6. Product Registration Updates

In Arkansas, HB 1480 would become active on July 1, 2013 if implemented, and would require all wineries to register their brand labels and label extensions at a fee of $15 per label per container size. Additionally, wineries producing over 250,000 gallons annually would have to register as a supplier and submit an annual permit fee of $50. This bill is currently out of committee and in the House with a recommendation of “do pass”.

Stay in the know! Subscribe to the ShipCompliant Blog for the latest news in the 2013 Legislative Season.








Virginia DTC Fulfillment House Regulations; ABC Endorses Winery/Fulfillment House Contract Addendum Format

In July, 2009, Virginia ABC notified Virginia Wine Shipper licensees they were prohibited from contracting with third parties for selling and shipping wine into Virginia. Since then industry has been working with Virginia ABC to outline allowable uses of third parties. The culmination of these efforts was a new Virginia regulation which took effect in November 2012 that defines how out-of-state Fulfillment Warehouses can secure the necessary approvals from Virginia ABC to continue to do business with Virginia Direct Shipper licensees.

In a temporary work-around, Virginia ABC has allowed Direct Shippers to hold more than one direct shipping license and submit separate monthly shipment reports for each shipping location. This workaround remains in place until existing extra licenses expire (one year from issue) giving Direct Shippers and Fulfillment Warehouses time to secure the new approval. Wineries must continue to maintain their primary Virginia Direct Shipper license, but no licenses for additional fulfillment locations will be approved.

In order to gain the one-time written approval via letter from the Virginia ABC, Fulfillment Warehouses must, for each winery they represent:

  1. Provide Virginia ABC with a copy of the Fulfillment Warehouse’s valid, home state public warehouse license.
  2. Provide a written agreement between the Fulfillment Warehouse and the licensed Direct Shipper, listing all shipping locations and indicating the Fulfillment Warehouse is the agent of the Direct Shipper for purposes of complying with Virginia law. Please click here for a sample of a winery/fulfillment house contract addendum that has been recently endorsed by Virginia ABC to satisfy this requirement.
  3. Maintain for 2 years and make available to Virginia ABC upon request, records of each shipment, including 1) quantity and volume, 2) brands shipped, and 3) names and addresses of Virginia recipients.

Also as of November 2012, Virginia Direct Shipper licensees are no longer able to accept orders from Virginians made through a third party marketer that are not an “agricultural cooperative”. The most common unlicensed third party marketers (marketing portals, third party providers, TPPs, flash sites, e-mail marketers or collective web site hosts) cannot satisfy these requirements and are banned from selling into Virginia on behalf of wineries. If you use such marketers that trigger sales in Virginia, you may wish to discuss this new law with your contractor, as your Virginia Direct Shipper license is at stake.

Contact Terri Cofer Beirne at tbeirne@wineinstitute.org with any questions about these Virginia laws.

- Terri Cofer Beirne, Eastern Counsel, Wine Institute

Virginia and Third Parties – What You Need To Know Before November 4

In July of 2009, the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (Virginia ABC) sent out Circular Letter 09-05 to Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipper and Beer Shipper licensees, prohibiting Direct Shippers from contracting with third parties for receiving or shipping orders on behalf of the licensee. Since then, Virginia has been working with industry members to outline laws and regulations concerning the use of these third parties. The culmination of these efforts is a new Virginia regulation, which will go into effect this Sunday, November 4.

Initially these regulations were submitted in May of 2011 in support of a “fix-it” bill passed in April of 2010. The “fix it” bill – now current law – allows Direct Shippers to ship through approved Fulfillment Warehouses and Marketing Portals. These new regulations define how out-of-state Fulfillment Warehouses and Marketing Portals can become approved by Virginia ABC to do business with Virginia Direct Shipper licensees.

What’s Changing for Direct Shippers Using Fulfillment Warehouses
From 2010 until now, the Virginia ABC has allowed Direct Shippers to apply for more than one direct shipping license and submit separate monthly shipment reports for each shipping location as a temporary workaround. This workaround will remain in place after November 4, but only until the existing extra licenses expire (one year from the date of issue) giving Direct Shippers and Fulfillment Warehouses time to become approved as defined in the new regulations. All wineries must continue to maintain their primary Virginia Direct Shipper license, but no new licenses for additional fulfillment locations are expected to be approved. In order to gain Virginia ABC approval, Fulfillment Warehouses will need to:

  • Submit a copy of the Fulfillment Warehouse’s home-state fulfillment services license to the Virginia ABC
  • Submit a written contract or addendum to an existing contract, between the Fulfillment Warehouse and the licensed Direct Shipper, listing all shipping locations and indicating that the Fulfillment Warehouse is the agent of the Direct Shipper for purposes of complying with the Virginia direct wine shipper’s law under Va. Code §§4.1-209 and §§4.l-209.1, and Va. Administrative Regulation 3VAC5-70-240
  • Maintain for two years and make available to Virginia ABC upon request, records of each shipment, including: quantity and volume, brands shipped, and names and addresses of recipients

Fulfillment Warehouses must submit these documents for EACH Direct Shipper they represent. A sample addendum to be endorsed by the Virginia ABC is currently being drafted and will allow any existing contract between the two parties to merely be referenced, saving time and protecting proprietary information in existing agreements.

What’s Changing for Direct Shippers Using Marketing Portals
Virginia is one of the first states to restrict use of Third Party Marketers by out-of-state Direct Shippers. Beginning November 4, Third Party Marketers must follow these guidelines to become approved in the state:

  • The Marketing Portal must be properly organized as an “agricultural cooperative” in its home-state and provide a copy of its license to the Virginia ABC
  • Establish and submit to the state a written contract between the Marketing Portal and the Direct Shipper

The most commonly thought of Third Party Marketers (aka Third Party Providers, TPPs, flash sites, email marketers) may find it impossible to satisfy the new requirements as most are not licensed as “agricultural cooperatives”. Beginning November 4, Direct Shippers will no longer be able to accept Virginia orders made through a Third Party Marketer that is not an “agricultural cooperative”.

Three years after the release of Virginia Circular Letter 09-05, final regulation of third party services will be enacted on November 4. Industry members that are affected by these changes should continue to stay informed and be prepared to adapt how they do business with Virginia. Please comment with questions or contact Terri Cofer Beirne, Eastern Counsel, Wine Institute at tbeirne@wineinstitute.org.