Massachusetts Chooses Direct Wine Shipping Legislation Over Litigation
Attorney General Martha Coakley of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which saw its wine shipping law declared unconstitutional in January, announced she will not appeal the ruling. The deadline to file an appeal was April 14th.
Now, all eyes are watching the Commonwealth as a new direct wine shipping bill is moving its way through the Legislature. As currently written, the bill would create a permit allowing out-of-state wineries to ship up to 4 cases of wine per year to an individual. The permit cost is $100 per year. The bill would also require permit holders to report monthly on shipments into the state and to pay sales and excise taxes. The bill could take several months to pass and amendments could change its content, a common practice in the legislative process, so that what the final bill contains is yet to be determined.
The previous Massachusetts law only allowed wineries that produced 30,000 gallons or less and did not have a wholesaler in the state for the previous six months to ship direct to consumers and retailers. It was found to be unconstitutional by the First Circuit Court of Appeals for its discriminatory practical effect, which prevented more than 90% of out-of-state wineries from shipping to state residents while allowing all Massachusetts wineries to ship in-state.
IBG will be watching the bill closely as it proceeds through the Legislature and will alert clients as to the determination of its passage.