ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A top Senate Democrat told lobbyists for wine vendors on Thursday that some form of direct wine shipping will be approved in Maryland this year.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, told lobbyists and two lawmakers during a gathering in a Senate committee room that a bill to legalize direct shipping would be passed. However, Conway said details still need to be worked out between the various interests.
The proposal to allow consumers to receive wine by mail has been signed onto by a majority of lawmakers. Advocates of the measure accused Conway of blocking the bill last year — a charge she denied again Thursday.
“We’re going to give you something,” Conway told the group. “It might not be something you’re all going to be happy with.”
Lobbyists representing the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland and the Maryland Wineries Association met with Conway and the lead Senate and House sponsors of the bill to hash out their differences.
J. Steven Wise, a lobbyist for the licensed beverage association, told the group that wine that is widely available in
stores should not be approved for direct shipping to homes.
But one of the lead sponsors of the measure disagreed.
“Doesn’t it stand to reason if they can get the wine here they’re not going to add the extra $25 to $30 to ship it,” Sen.
Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, told the assembled group.
Raskin said more work is needed to negotiate a final compromise.
Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow wine to be shipped in the mail. Wine is now shipped in Maryland to an in-state wholesaler who sells to a distributor who then delivers the products to individual retailers. The system doesn’t satisfy connoisseurs who want what is not available in the state.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)