MD Direct Shipping Bill

One of the new members of the MD Offline group, Habu World Tour, tipped me off to the fact that FINALLY, someone in the MD state legislature is proposing a change in the law to allow for direct shipping in MD.

For those of you who live in the 34 states that allow direct shipping of wine, it may seem incredible to you that it is a felony to ship into or receive a shipment of wine in the state of Maryland. Mad Roll Eyes Mad

Some details on the bill and sponsors are here, and a summary of the bill's contents is here.

I've requested the text of the bill from the sponsors' offices and will post it here when received. If you are a Marylander, this is something you should follow very carefully.

Original Post

jfoobar - Where are you in MD? Come to an offline if you can manage it!

I just got an e-mail from Sen. Raskin, followed by one from his assistant. The bill has been submitted, and is in the process of being posted online in the next 48 hours or so. I'll post a link when I get it.

MD posters and lurkers, this is a chance to get our state out of the dark ages when it comes to wine shipping. DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS!!!!

I'd like to see the text of the bill. Is that not available somewhere online?

I think this thread segues nicely into the thread. If this bill happens, what you're going to have is a small group of wineries and retailers who are going to pny up the license fee and submit to Maryland's "revenuers." The rest of the wine world is going to ignore you. Then, of course, there are those who will seek to take advantage of the fact that the UPS guy isn't going to be able to know which retailers and wineries are up to date on their license and tax payments, so he'll deliver the wine anywhere.
It's about time Maryland came out of the dark ages and stepped into the 21 st century. I have written to all my Senators and reps as well as spoken with them face to face. Several months ago I did a barrell tasting with our Comptroller, Peter Franchot at a MD winery and he told a group of us that he was in favor of changing the law so that direct shipping of wine would be allowed in MD. Since the days of prohibition being repealed, the law was left in the hands of the state,....the Comptrollers office.If the bill does not pass then we will see how deep into the politicians pockets the liquor people are!
While I encourage us all to let our feelings known...don't get your hopes up.

I was in Annapolis in ECM (that's Economic Matters for you non-political types) the last time this bill was introduced. I will give you a brief quote from the testimony "Why should we turnover an entire distribution system just to please a few rich, spoiled brats"?

Did you all read just how strangely the MD domestic wine producer's distribution bill was worded a couple of year's back? I'm sure you can easily guess why the law was so carefully constructed. THAT bill speaks volumes about the power of the wholesaler's lobby and just how distant the prospect of direct shipping is for Marylanders. Frown Mad
I used the "free the grapes" website about a year ago but never heard anything back from the representatives that it emails.

Also, I'm not sure if this bill is different but there are a few wineries that are currently able to ship to MD using 3rd tier distributers. Copain and Carlisle are among them. For those in Montgomery County, this doesn't make getting wine any easier since the county needs to take delivery of the wine from the distributer. I end up getting mine shipped to a wine store near my sister in Baltimore.
Nearly every bill in MD gets killed for the first year or two.
We have an incredibly conservative legislature, which moves in incremental steps. (Except for tax increases).
Comet Spider---the rich spoiled brats are the distributors and the stores.
The bill in the Senate is SB 616. The full text is still not available, but here is the link where it will be:
I am sure the bill text will be available in the not too distant future. If you go to the General Assembly website you can figure out who your delgates are, and who your senators are. The most important thing is to get the bill voted favorably in the committee, so you need to check the Committee roster and see who you know.
Here is the website of the General Assembly:
I am sure the House version will be forthcoming.
Interestingly, the Senate version is co-sponsored by some of the most liberal members and also Senator Nancy Jacobs, who is rather right wing.
Originally posted by jfoobar:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
jfoobar - Where are you in MD? Come to an offline if you can manage it!

I am in the Bowie area.

Yes, I thought about trying to go to the CdP event you folks had recently but that was a bad weekend for me.

Keep an eye on the boards. We'd love to have you make it to one soon!

Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Yeah, I don't see much to not like, from any perspective. Even the part where I have to pay MD sales tax is OK with me.... Wink Considering the extra expense of driving to my enabler, it's pretty much of a wash.


The only way this would have a chance at being voted into law is by including some sort of kickback to the state...which, I agree with your point, is fine by me.

I can see it now: "this bill would provide $xx,xxx,xxx in sales tax revenue for state it for the kids"

I should be a lobbyist.
Originally posted by Schu:
For those in Montgomery County, this doesn't make getting wine any easier since the county needs to take delivery of the wine from the distributer.

Montgomery County is truly a backwater for fine wines. Mad I'm wondering how, even if this bill ever gets passed, they will find a way to screw it up.

Where are you in G'burg, Schu? I've lived in and around the area for many years.

Oh........and work on your post count, willya? Wink Razz

Montgomery County is truly a backwater for fine wines. Mad I'm wondering how, even if this bill ever gets passed, they will find a way to screw it up.

Where are you in G'burg, Schu? I've lived in and around the area for many years.

Oh........and work on your post count, willya? Wink Razz

OK, this wasn't directed at me, but I understand I need to get my count up as well. Yes, Montgomery County truly is backwards - I know the owner of a nice French restaurant in the county - he has wine woes for sure (though his wine list is pretty good). I have a relative in N VA so I can get stuff shipped there but it is a hassle.

BTW - thanks for the suggestion to check out MacArthur's a month or so ago. First time I went there I dropped way too much money but they have a nice selection and a good staff. I was happy to find a case of 2005 Vieux Telegraphe CdP at what I thought was a decent price, got that squirreled away for many years.

If you are motivated to write a letter in support of the Md. wine bill, which is either HB-1260, or SB 616, you could write to:
Del. Tom Hucker
House of Delegates
Suite 220
6 Bladen Blvd
Annapolis, MD 21401
ATTN: Maria Topper
If you email an attachment in "Word", it will be sent to the Senate committee.
The House committee is "Economic Matters" and has scheduled a hearing on 2/18 at 1PM. Letters should be received by them prior to that.
It costs nothing to express your opinion.

Apologies for the huge post, but this was copied and pasted from my inbox. It appears that there is another attempt afoot to get direct shipping approved in our state. It does feel a bit like tilting at windmills, but what the hell!


The Maryland State Senate will be holding a committee hearing on Wednesday, February 18th to consider legislation that would allow Maryland consumers to receive wine shipped directly to them from wineries or retailers. If this issue is of concern to you, please contact your General Assembly representatives to let them know you want their support. You can read the full text of the bill at the following URL: Below is a sample email that you can send to your senators and a list of them with their email addresses. The hearing details are as follows:

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


MD Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee

2 West, Miller Senate Building

11 Bladen St

Annapolis, MD 21401

Sample Email

Subject: Support SB338 Direct Wine Shipment Legislation

Dear Senator _____:

I am a Maryland consumer and interested in seeing passage of direct wine shipment legislation (SB338) in our state. I am shocked that we are not able to receive wine delivered directly to our door in an era when everything else can be. Given the size of the state budget deficit, I am sure you and your fellow senators are looking for additional revenue as hard as you can. So many other states are already collecting millions of dollars of additional permit fee income and tax revenue due to direct shipment in their states, and Maryland should have its fair share of that money. Passage of SB338 benefits consumers, retailers, Maryland wineries, and it will provide more tax revenue for our state. Please let me know that we can count on your support.


Your Name

Your Address



Astle, John C. (D), District 30

Brinkley, David R. (R), District 4

Brochin, James (D), District 42

Colburn, Richard F. (R), District 37

Conway, Joan Carter (D), District 43

Currie, Ulysses (D), District 25

DeGrange, James E., Sr. (D) District 32

Della, George W., Jr. (D), District 46

Dyson, Roy P. (D), District 29

Edwards, George C. (R), District 1

Exum, Nathaniel (D), District 24

Forehand, Jennie M. (D), District 17

Frosh, Brian E. (D), District 16

Garagiola, Robert J. (D), District 15

Gladden, Lisa A. (D), District 41

Glassman, Barry (R), District 35

Greenip, Janet (R), District 33

Haines, Larry E. (R), District 5

Harrington, David C. (D), District 47

Harris, Andrew P. (R), District 7

Jacobs, Nancy (R), District 34

Jones, Verna L. (D), District 44

Kasemeyer, Edward J. (D), District 12

Kelley, Delores G. (D), District 10

King, Nancy J. (D), District 39

Kittleman, Allan H. (R), District 7

Klausmeier, Katherine A. (D), District 8

Kramer, Rona E. (D), District 14

Lennett, Michael G. (D), District 19

Madaleno, Richard Stuart, Jr. (D), District 18

McFadden, Nathaniel J. (D), District 45

Middleton, Thomas M. (D), District 28

Miller, Thomas V. Mike, Jr. (D), District 27

Mooney, Alex X. (R), District 3

Munson, Donald F. (R), District 2

Muse, C. Anthony (D), District 26

Peters, Douglas J.J. (D), District 23

Pinsky, Paul G. (D), District 22

Pipkin, E.J. (R), District 36

Pugh, Catherine (D), District 40

Raskin, Jamin B. (D), District 20

Robey, James N. (D), District 13

Rosapepe, James C. (D), District 21

Simonaire, Bryan W. (R), District 31

Stoltzfus, J. Lowell (R), District 31

Stone, Norman R., Jr. (D), District 6

Zirkin, Robert A. (D), District 11

Thank you for your support of MBBWL!

Best regards,

Adam Borden

Executive Director
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws
4315 Underwood Road
Baltimore, MD 21218
Tel: (443) 570-8102
Thanks, PH.
I've been in touch with Delegate Hucker, who will be reintroducing this on the House side. I guess it is already in, and I will search for the bill number and post it.
The key in the Senate would be the committee members of the alcoholic beverages subcommittee of the Senate committee, and those are: Richard F. Colburn (chair), Joan Carter Conway, David C. Harrington, Andrew P. Harris, and James C. Rosapepe.
The other members of the committee would be Michael Lenett, Paul G. Pinsky, and Janet Greenip and Roy P. Dyson.
I will certainly mail testimony to the Committee
and will urge others to do likewise.
It is best if one authors an original letter.
Of course, Bruce Bereano, the highly paid and ethically questionable lobbyist is hired by the retailers interests.
Here is a link to the bill itself:
There are 19 co-sponsors in the Senate. (The Senate has 47 members, and to pass a bill one needs 24 votes. Among the co-sponsors are Senators Harris, Lenett, Pinsky and Greenip, all on this committee!
We have a shot.
Sort of interesting. Paul Pinsky is perhaps the most left wing of the Senators and Andy Harris is perhaps the most right wing.
I read over the bill. Essential provisions:
An out of state alcohol seller must register with the Comptroller's office and pay an annual registration fee of $100.
The out of state shipper must collect sales tax equivalent to our Md. sales tax (6%). (this is so that there will be no diminution of sales tax revenue--to satisfy that argument).
The containers must be conspicuously marked that they contain alcohol and may not be shipped to persons under 21.
The sellers have a maximum amount of shipping per year of 24 nine liter cases per individual.
The purchaser must not re-sell the wine.
(9 liter case = 12 750 ml. bottles).
So, any person may only purchase 24 cases from the same seller per year.
We do have an improved chance this year. The additional $100 per shipper's license is a draw given our state's financial condition. Sarbuze is right that the only way to succeed is to grease the wheels of change through lining the state's pockets.

Irwin- in addition to Bereano, Shwartz, Metz, and Wise are on the bill too for the liquor interests. I'm sure there are others.

Beware the next stalling tactic- the form to become a licensed shipper will be 74 pages long (in triplicate) and require all employees of the shipper to be fingerprinted and background checked (at the shipper's expense) in addition to the $100 fee. The form can only be submitted on Feb. 29 via certified mail. Yada, yada, yada.
On the House side, the bill is now HB-1262. See

Del. Hucker has lined up about 75 co-sponsors. The hearing in the Senate is today. The hearing in the house will be on 2/23 at 1 PM.

There are 141 members of the House, and to pass a bill it takes 71 votes. We have a real shot this year, but it is not a done deal.
Marylanders!!!! Write your letters. Send the emails. Don't threaten anyone, just point out that this makes good sense. Under the bill, the wineries will have to register and pay an annual fee of $100, and you'll still have to pay Maryland sales tax. So, the bill will not hurt us economically. Plus, Maryland wineries will be able to ship out of state. There are safeguards against minors obtaining wine. Write today.
Originally posted by Bob in MD:
The Free the Grape website is an easy way to send an email to your legislator. Just enter your zip code and it knows who your reps are and their email address. It also provides a letter that you can edit or use as it. It takes only a few minutes.

Good site. Good outfit. But, please..... take the extra 11 seconds to write your own letter. Form letters carry less impact and are a lazy citizen's crutch.

Legislative update: I attended the hearing in the House committee this afternoon. I testified. About 7 other consumers testified for the bill, along with a few people from wine groups, someone from The Wine Institute, and one fellow from a winery. Some of the legislators were indifferent to the bill. Others were extremely hostile.
A Republican Delegate from Harford County said that she had gotten nasty emails with harsh language and she did not appreciate testimony and other statements that were invective. Del. Minnick, who owns a restaurant and catering service and I believe has a liquor license, and who at one point served as an officer in the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association, was also very hostile. He talked about our responsibility to save children from alcohol.
When I testified, I emphasized the spontaneity of the consumption of minor of alcohol. They don't plan ahead and order, say, the 2006 Clos Pegase Pinot Noir, since they figure they'll want to get drunk in a week. Rather they get their hands on whatever is immediately available.
I can virtually guarantee that the bill has no chance.
One proponent, whose name I didn't get, said he was a knowledgeable wine consumer and said that the bill was directed really at a niche consumer. The problem with that is that the legislature isn't interested in passing laws that are directed to a few folks.
It was a total waste of time to go there. Maryland is not going to change its law.
The Opponents stressed how important the service they perform is, that is, the liquor stores screen the purchasers by carding them, and he also predicted the death of the 3 tiered system. He emphasized that there would be no local control of alcohol. One opponent said that while some proponents talk about boutique wine and wine that is unavailable, the legislation is not so limited, and that the bill could be used to order Boone's Farm or White Zin. (Well, I suppose it could, but really, how likely is that?).
One opponent said that while the sales tax is supposed to be paid, he predicted that sellers would cheat and not collect it, and that Maryland would lose vast amounts of money in taxes if the bill passed.

Anyway, afterwards, my wife and I went to the Middleton Tavern for dinner. After we split a tableside prepared Caesar salad, she had some nice medallions of pork, with mushrooms and a mild hoisin sauce, with some diced veggies. I had a "Middleton Steak" which was essentially a filet, with a baked potato. We had a 2006 Old Vines Campus Oaks Zin from Lodi. Nice raspberry and cherry notes and a lighter flavor than many zins. 86 pts.
Irwin, thanks for giving up some of your time to the Cause. I'm not overly surprised to hear your commentary. The wholesalers have a stranglehold on ECM through years of contributions. Regardless, the current law is so incredibly out of touch with the 21st century it will fall...someday. Maybe the next generation of wine drinkers will toast Irwin for his foundational work to free the grapes. Until then, thanks.
Just before our bill was heard, they heard a bill to ban the sale of "alcopops" - some sort of sweet alcoholic beverage apparently favored by youths--from stores with just beer and wine licenses. Generally, it seemed like a dumb idea to me. The liquor industry opposed this and said that they felt that this particular beverage was not marketed to young people, that it was a legitimate product, and that they had no fear that young people would abuse alcohol. Delegate Minnick seemed to agree with this, commenting that he didn't really see a problem with this, and that while he understood that the Committee had to protect youths, they should not restrain the sale of a legitimate product in this fashion.
Then, the next bill....ours.....The liquor industry opposes it due to their concern that wine shipped directly could be consumed by minors, and that would be terrible, and that while there is no evidence from any state to suggest that wine is shipped to minors, there is no evidence that it isn't. (huh?).
I pointed out that minors consume alcohol in spontaneous behavior. I said, "You don't see 16 year olds plotting to get drunk in 10 days and then getting on the internet to order Clos Pegase Pinot Noir". (At least I got a chuckle).

Delegate Minnick makes a statement that he feels that his committee needs to deal with the serious scourge of alcohol consumption by youth and that it is a real problem and that the Committee has to take stands to stop this scourge.
So, he favors the easy sale of alcopops but not internet wine. Go figure.

At the moment, 35 states permit direct alcohol sales. Next year when the legislature takes it up, it will be more.
Two of the proponents spoke of feeling embarrassed in Napa when they tried to ship wine home and the winery people shook their heads no.
Maryland is supposed to be a progressive state. But, the reality is that the legislature is quite conservative. As noted previously, there is a reason why jousting is our state sport.
So here is a bill with more than half of the legislature co-sponsoring the bill, but it won't get out of committee.
Comet Spider....I am not THAT old! You make me sound like Samuel F.B. Morse or John Paul Jones or something!

Add Reply

Likes (0)