Here is a bill that I will be keeping a close eye on during the 2009 session:
This bill will allow local and national wine sellers, including wineries, to apply for permits to sell their wine through mail order and/or the internet. Most states now allow direct shipments of wine, but Maryland is still lagging behind the times. Here is how the current law reads, according to The Wine Institute:
Felony state except in compliance with special order provision (via through three-tier system). AB-21 allows for out-of-state wineries to obtain a wine seller’s permit from the Maryland Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division for an annual fee of $10.00. This permit enables the out-of-state shipper to ship only wines which are not already available (and have not been in the last two years) in Maryland through a distributor. The shipper may not sell more than 900 liters of wine total per year or not more than 108 liters of wine to a single consumer in a calendar year. Moreover, the consumer must designate a wholesaler in Maryland through which the transaction will be facilitated via a licensed retailer to the consumer. Only one wholesaler per permit holder will be approved; the wholesaler must agree to the reporting requirements and sign the application form. As the AB-21 administrative release specifies, the permit holder may only ship the product prepaid to the designated wholesaler using a public carrier which holds a valid public transportation permit to transport alcoholic beverages.
If this bill, which is being sponsored by Senator Jacobs, Glassman and Harris, passes, it could be a boon to some of the local wineries. A similar bill, 616, failed last year due to an “Unfavorable Report by Education Health and Environmental Affairs”.