Direct wine task force has first meeting; chairman says to expect report sooner than December of 2020

A nine-member task force charged with studying the impact of allowing wine to be shipped directly to Alabama consumers had its first meeting July 30th. Although by law, the panel is report its findings to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2020, the newly elected chairman, Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, said, “I’m not going to wait until December of 2020.”

At least five direct shipment bills died in the 2019 regular session. Direct wine shipment legislation also died in previous sessions, most recently in 2017.

Act No. 2019 – 197 creates the panel that is to determine the benefits of direct shipment “while protecting current businesses and ensuring that alcohol is delivered in a responsible manner.”

The nine-member task force includes a licensed Alabama wine manufacturer, distributor and retailer as well as a representative of a shipping and delivery business. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control board also has a representative. The other members are lawmakers.

The group, which is to conduct at least two public hearings, is to look at other states’ direct shipment laws, especially states that have a three-tier system for alcohol sales – manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

In the 2019 regular session, the House approved HB350 by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, which would have allowed an already licensed wine manufacturer or an entity with a federal basic wine manufacturing permit to obtain a wine direct shipper permit. The bill would have allowed the shipment of one case of wine each month per household.

Besides Collins’ bill, four other direct shipping bills had been awaiting floor debate at the time this task force was created:

  • SB274 by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, which is similar, but not identical to HB350, would have allowed an already licensed wine manufacturer or an entity with a federal basic wine manufacturing permit to obtain a wine direct shipper permit from the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board.
  • A substitute version of HB519 would have created a delivery service permit that would allow delivery services and grocery stores to deliver sealed containers of beer and wine to adult Alabamians. The original bill would have created a delivery service permit that would have allowed such services to deliver sealed containers of liquor, beer and wine sold for off-premise consumption to adult Alabamians.
  • SB234 by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, would have allowed licensed small farm wineries to self-distribute their table wines to licensed retailers or to sell directly to adult consumers. The wineries could also contract with a third-party common carrier for deliveries.
  • SB271 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, would have allowed small craft wineries or breweries to deliver their product to adults in areas where alcohol sales are already allowed in Alabama.

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Last updated July 30, 2019

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