On May 29th, “An Act To Increase Consumer Choice for Wine” (H 696) won initial approval by the Maine House of Representatives. On June 1st, only one legislative day later, the proposed act was passed by the Senate. The bill is waiting for Governor Baldacci’s signature before becoming law.
If passed, H 696 would provide for a direct shipping permit, which would allow wineries to ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to the doorsteps of Maine consumers over the age of 21. As with any direct shipping bill, the freedom to deliver wine to a consumer’s home comes with a few restrictions, but none are overly burdensome. Some specific requirements include:
- Collection and payment of sales tax
- Quarterly reporting and payment of excise tax
- $200 license fee; $50 renewal fee
- Photo ID verification and signature of recipient upon delivery
- Licensees may not ship wine in a container smaller than 750 mL
- Licensees may not ship to local option areas or areas identified as a prohibited shipping area
The expeditious passage of H 696 through the Maine Senate is a welcome event for wineries across the country. A bill that would allow winery-to-consumer shipping in Tennessee is also waiting for a signature from their governor. If both of these measures are signed into law, Maine and Tennessee will join Kansas in the ranks of previously prohibited states who have adopted favorable direct shipping laws in 2009.
UPDATE: The Senate introduced an amendment that addresses some carrier issues as proposed in Committee Amendment “A”. The bill must again be read (date set for 6/3/2009) by the House before being considered for passage into Law.
UPDATE 6/5/2009: The Maine legislature passed the bill to be enacted on June 5th, 2009 with a carrier amendment. The bill is now ready to be sent to the governor. Once received by Governor Baldacci, he has 10 days (not including Sundays) to take action, otherwise the bill becomes law without his signature.