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Monday, March 13, 2006

Ind. Law - More on: Compromise reportedly reached on wine shipping legislation

"Lawmakers reach tentative agreement on winery bill" is the headline of an AP story by Deanna Martin filed earlier this afternoon. Some quotes:

Small wineries could ship wine to Indiana customers under a tentative agreement by lawmakers - a move many wine makers say is crucial to their business.

The compromise legislation would create a direct wine seller's permit so that Indiana wineries and those in other states could ship to Indiana residents.

Wineries that sell less than 500,000 gallons of wine in Indiana and meet other qualifications would have to pay $100 a year for the permit. They would be able to ship 3,000 cases of wine to Indiana customers each year.

Customers ordering wine would first have to visit the winery in person and complete a face-to-face transaction, during which the winery could check their ID. Customers could then order up to two cases per month that could be shipped to them at home.

"If passed, this bill will help make it possible for Indiana's farm wineries to continue to operate and prosper," said Larry Satek, president of the Indiana Winegrowers Guild and owner of Satek Winery in Fremont.

Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton said earlier this session that the bill should not move forward because at least one lawsuit is pending on the issue. He said the Senate's practice was to not become involved in deciding the outcome of lawsuits.

However, wine industry officials say the nine Indiana wineries that filed a lawsuit in November in Marion County Superior Court said they will drop the complaint if both the House and Senate pass the compromise bill. The legislative session is slated to end Tuesday.

Garton said he approved of the compromise bill as long as the lawsuits are dropped.

"That's the only reason we held it up," said Garton, R-Columbus.

The winery legislation was a reaction to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last spring that overturned laws in New York and Michigan against buying wine directly from out-of-state wineries. The ruling prompted Indiana alcohol regulators to issue a letter to in-state wineries saying they could no longer ship directly to Indiana customers.

My question. Does this compromise resolve the issues presented by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling? Will the proposed new law withstand challenge in light of the Supreme Court ruling? According to the AP report, it will "create a direct wine seller's permit so that Indiana wineries and those in other states could ship to Indiana residents." However, "Customers ordering wine would first have to visit the winery in person and complete a face-to-face transaction, during which the winery could check their ID." In other words, if you want to order wine from a Bloomington winery, or a Washington State winery, you may, but you have to go there first, in person.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2006 04:34 PM
Posted to Indiana Law