Coble Supports Liquor Distribution Industry Over NC Wineries

I have been very supportive of Howard Coble and generally think he is doing a fine job representing his constituents, but his support for HR 5034 borders on the outrageous.

The stated purpose of the bill is “To support State based alcohol regulation, to clarify evidentiary rules for alcohol matters, to ensure the collection of all alcohol taxes, and for other purposes.”  Other purposes?  Apparently, among the other purposes Coble has in mind is protecting the profits of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and some of his other large campaign contributors at the expense of NC wineries.  According to the N&R, Coble said, “If the distribution phase of the three-legged stool* is eliminated, it would be a jobs killer in North Carolina.” However, if the “distribution phase” is eliminated, small wineries, brewers and probably liquor producers as well will be able to sell their products more widely to the general public, including via the internet.  Interestingly enough, the N&R article quotes someone who would be unhappy to no longer be able to have Texas wine shipped in but doesn’t talk to any wineries about the impact it could have on their ability to ship NC wine out of state.

Note also that the legislation decrees that alcohol is different from other products and must be regulated more heavily to keep people from over consuming it (how’s that working for them anyway?) as well as to ensure the collection of alcohol taxes.  To be fair, the statue does also state that “State or territorial regulations may not facially discriminate, without justification, against out-of-state producers of alcoholic beverages in favor of in-state producers.”  This seems to imply that states that allow instate shipping of wine must also allow wines from out of state to be shipped in as well.

* “Three-legged stool” refers to the system, implemented after Prohibition, whereby sellers of alcoholic beverages are not allowed to sell to the general public (or even restaurants) but must first sell to a distributor who then resells the product to restaurants, stores, etc.  This means that alcoholic beverages cost more to the end consumer and also, in many cases, that small wineries, brewers, etc cannot sell their product outside of their own facilities at all because they cannot find a distributor.

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