House Bill 402 has been moving through the Montana Legislature with relatively little opposition, giving us hope that this half-measure direct shipping bill will see the light of day on the floor and pass into law in 2013.
The opposition to the bill has been from the usual suspects: Wholesalers. Their argument in opposition to the bill falls into two general categories:
1. The Current “Connoisseurs License” which put the onus of complying with regulations and remitting taxes on the consumer is just working great!!
2. Out-of-state wineries should not be allowed to serve Montana residents so easily via direct shipping because, well, just because.
I note that the Montana Direct Shipping bill is a “half measure”. It is a half measure for the following reasons:
1. It will prohibit Montanans from purchasing wine from out-of-state wine stores
2. It will ban the direct shipment of all wines not produced in the United States
3. It will ban Montanans from joining wine of the month clubs
4. It will ban Montanans from having wine shipped from auction houses.
These kinds of restrictions are a result of an inherent desire by legislators to protect local businesses from having to compete on a level playing field and a result of many members of the wine trade being satisfied with discriminatory laws as long as the discrimination protects them and doesn’t impact them. Of course, these kinds of foolish restrictions are also a result of a local wine consumers who simply are not consulted when new laws impacting them and their access to wine are being considered.
Still, if passed, LB 402 will be a step in the right direction.