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  • Maine Direct Shipping Applications Update

    The Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement has indicated that direct shipping license applications will be available on September 12, 2009, the same day the direct shipping law becomes effective. Wineries should contact Lori Nolette, the contact for liquor licensing and compliance at the Bureau, for a copy of the application once it becomes available. The direct shipping licensees will be able to ship up to 12 cases of wine to each consumer each year. The initial license fee is $200 with an annual renewal of $50. Wineries must have a license in order to ship on-site and off-site transactions to Maine consumers beginning September 12, 2009. Wine Institute will post any updates about the direct shipper license application on the Wine Institute website as soon as it becomes available.

    -Annie Bones, State Relations – Wine Institute

    Maine Event, At Last

    After years of trying, wine commerce proponents succeeded in adding Maine to the list of license states for direct shipment. Governor Baldacci signed HP 696/LD 1008 on June 12th.

    After the Bureau of Liquor Enforcement adopts regulations and licensing procedures, the law will permit out-of-state and Maine farm wineries alike to ship wine (but not wine coolers!) directly to consumers by common carrier, subject to the same taxes as if sold locally. Meanwhile, the on-site provisions summarized in previous releases of Notes on Wine Distribution appear to remain available.

    by R. Corbin Houchins, CorbinCounsel.com

    It's Alive! (and Waiting for the Governor's Signature) – Direct Shipping Bill in Maine

    On May 29th, “An Act To Increase Consumer Choice for Wine” (H 696) won initial approval by the Maine House of Representatives. On June 1st, only one legislative day later, the proposed act was passed by the Senate. The bill is waiting for Governor Baldacci’s signature before becoming law.

    If passed, H 696 would provide for a direct shipping permit, which would allow wineries to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to the doorsteps of Maine consumers over the age of 21. As with any direct shipping bill, the freedom to deliver wine to a consumer’s home comes with a few restrictions, but none are overly burdensome. Some specific requirements include:

    • Collection and payment of sales tax
    • Quarterly reporting and payment of excise tax
    • $200 license fee; $50 renewal fee
    • Photo ID verification and signature of recipient upon delivery
    • Licensees may not ship wine in a container smaller than 750 mL
    • Licensees may not ship to local option areas or areas identified as a prohibited shipping area

    The expeditious passage of H 696 through the Maine Senate is a welcome event for wineries across the country. A bill that would allow winery-to-consumer shipping in Tennessee is also waiting for a signature from their governor. If both of these measures are signed into law, Maine and Tennessee will join Kansas in the ranks of previously prohibited states who have adopted favorable direct shipping laws in 2009.


    UPDATE: The Senate introduced an amendment that addresses some carrier issues as proposed in Committee Amendment “A”. The bill must again be read (date set for 6/3/2009) by the House before being considered for passage into Law.


    UPDATE 6/5/2009: The Maine legislature passed the bill to be enacted on June 5th, 2009 with a carrier amendment. The bill is now ready to be sent to the governor. Once received by Governor Baldacci, he has 10 days (not including Sundays) to take action, otherwise the bill becomes law without his signature.

    It’s Alive! (and Waiting for the Governor’s Signature) – Direct Shipping Bill in Maine

    On May 29th, “An Act To Increase Consumer Choice for Wine” (H 696) won initial approval by the Maine House of Representatives. On June 1st, only one legislative day later, the proposed act was passed by the Senate. The bill is waiting for Governor Baldacci’s signature before becoming law.

    If passed, H 696 would provide for a direct shipping permit, which would allow wineries to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to the doorsteps of Maine consumers over the age of 21. As with any direct shipping bill, the freedom to deliver wine to a consumer’s home comes with a few restrictions, but none are overly burdensome. Some specific requirements include:

    • Collection and payment of sales tax
    • Quarterly reporting and payment of excise tax
    • $200 license fee; $50 renewal fee
    • Photo ID verification and signature of recipient upon delivery
    • Licensees may not ship wine in a container smaller than 750 mL
    • Licensees may not ship to local option areas or areas identified as a prohibited shipping area

    The expeditious passage of H 696 through the Maine Senate is a welcome event for wineries across the country. A bill that would allow winery-to-consumer shipping in Tennessee is also waiting for a signature from their governor. If both of these measures are signed into law, Maine and Tennessee will join Kansas in the ranks of previously prohibited states who have adopted favorable direct shipping laws in 2009.


    UPDATE: The Senate introduced an amendment that addresses some carrier issues as proposed in Committee Amendment “A”. The bill must again be read (date set for 6/3/2009) by the House before being considered for passage into Law.


    UPDATE 6/5/2009: The Maine legislature passed the bill to be enacted on June 5th, 2009 with a carrier amendment. The bill is now ready to be sent to the governor. Once received by Governor Baldacci, he has 10 days (not including Sundays) to take action, otherwise the bill becomes law without his signature.

    Woman of the Hour – Tracy Genesen

    Tracy Genesen of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP is one of the prominent forces currently driving legal change in the wine industry and was the keynote speaker at ShipCompliant’s 2008 Users Conference a few weeks ago.

    Genesen’s speech analogized her role in the industry to a “court of last resort” when legislative means are unsuccessful in remedying protectionist state laws that have remained in effect despite the Granholm ruling in 2005. Granholm resolved many instances of differential treatment by the states and was extended to apply to self-distribution in the Costco ruling. However, Genesen revealed that the post-Granholm time of prosperity has given way to another host of problems. For example, states like Maine and Arkansas, in which direct shipping markets do not exist, have level playing fields; however, treating everyone the same by not allowing anyone to ship is a detriment to the wine industry. In addition, courts are struggling to deal with retail-to-consumer shipping laws in many states. Challenges to these laws have produced interesting results, like the “funky remedy” by a district court judge in a Texas lawsuit which declared that Granholm applied to retailers, but that retailers must first buy wine through Texas-licensed wholesalers. Wholesalers have also maintained their grip on states like Massachusetts by crafting legislation that is beneficial to them but also facially neutral. The 30,000 gallon capacity cap in Massachusetts exemplifies such economic protectionism and is the contention in the Family Winemakers of California case. Oral arguments in the case took place on July 29th in Boston and the decision is expected sometime this fall.

    Many thanks to Tracy Genesen for sharing her insights into the current legal atmosphere of the industry. To view Genesen’s speech in its entirety or that of any of the other speakers at the conference, please see the 2008 Users Conference Simulcast. More information on the cases in Massachusetts and Texas is also available on the ShipCompliant Blog.

    Wine Distribution Notes – Release 28

    The latest version of Notes on Wine Distribution by R. Corbin Houchins is now available for viewing or downloading. Release 28 highlights changes in the following categories: Age & Identity Verification, Rethinking Reciprocity and State Notes, specifically Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Headings of sections with substantial changes since the preceding release (published in early April, 2008) are highlighted, so that you can easily find the updated sections.

    You can always view the most current version of Houchins’s Notes on Wine Distribution by visiting ShipCompliantBlog.com and clicking on the “Wine Distribution Notes” link under “Compliance Resources” on the right-hand side of the page.