The bill, known as the "21st Amendment Enforcement Act," was introduced by Rep. Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., and cosponsored by Chris Cannon, R-Utah, William Delahunt, D-Mass. and James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
HR2031 would give state attorneys general the power to seek injunctions in federal court to stop shipments of alcoholic beverages that violate state laws. Currently, regulations vary widely among states: Some permit out-of-state wineries to directly ship wine to state residents under certain conditions, while others make such shipments a felony.
In March, Hatch, R-Utah, introduced similar legislation (S577), saying that states have had difficulty enforcing their shipping laws when the sellers are from out of state. In late May, the legislation passed the Senate in the form of an amendment to a juvenile-justice bill. The amendment, sponsored by Byrd, D-W.Va., was backed by many alcoholic-beverage wholesalers, whose businesses may be threatened by the growth in Internet, phone and mail-order sales of wine.
But a spokeswoman for Sensenbrenner said, "The nuts-and-bolts reason behind this bill is that when purchasing over the Internet, there's no effective way to check ID. We're talking about underage drinking here. There's also the issue of state liquor taxes, which are being circumvented."
Winery organizations -- the Wine Institute, American Vintners Association and Free the Grapes! -- are fighting restrictions on direct shipping, saying that they will limit adult consumers' access to hard-to-find fine wines. To deal with the issue of minors' access to alcohol, the groups support legislation that would require package carriers to ask for age identification at the time of delivery.
For more on federal shipping legislation:
For recent state legislative news:
For a comprehensive look at the direct shipping issue:
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