WSWA Applauds Introduction of Legislation Affirming States' Rights

Mar 18, 2011, 14:31 ET from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) yesterday introduced legislation that will help keep the regulation of alcohol in the hands of locally-elected officials. Chaffetz was joined by Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) in sponsoring the legislation. Referred to as the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act (H.R. 1161), this new legislation recognizes that alcohol is different from other consumer products and that it requires effective regulation.

"The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America applauds Rep. Chaffetz and the other original co-sponsors for introducing this legislation," WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said. "These members of Congress deserve credit for supporting legislation that will reinforce the ability of states, and the officials elected by the citizens of those states, to continue to regulate alcohol within their borders as they see fit."

The CARE Act recognizes that alcohol is different from other consumer products and that it requires effective regulation. This legislation also recognizes and reaffirms state authority to control the sale, distribution and consumption of alcohol as provided by the 21st Amendment. Perhaps most importantly, the CARE Act enables states to defend their alcohol laws from litigation designed to eviscerate state control over alcohol policy decisions. In other words, this legislation is about WHO should make decisions regarding alcohol regulation, not WHAT those decisions should be.

The U.S. system of alcohol distribution is, without question, the best and most accountable in the world today. It provides unparalleled consumer choice, efficient collection of taxes and proper delivery of safe alcoholic beverages. Nowhere in the world will you find the innovation, variety and selection as you will find here in the United States.

Unfortunately, America's uniquely effective system of distribution is under attack in the courts from parties who are engaged in a deliberate and systematic effort to destroy a state's right to enact effective regulations designed to prevent abuse and ensure public safety. Despite a victory handed to the states by a denial of certiorari last week by the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs immediately made it clear that the battle to undermine state policymaking authority is far from over. As a lawyer for plaintiffs readily admitted, "The war rages on."

"It is important for our supplier, importer and retailer partners to understand that we don't consider this an 'intra-industry' squabble. This is not 'us versus them.' After all, no legitimate player in the industry feels litigation is an appropriate method for establishing or altering alcohol policy," Wolf said. "We are supporting this legislation in an effort to ensure that policy disputes are resolved by local elected officials rather than unelected and unaccountable federal judges," he added.  

WSWA and its industry partners, including the National Beer Wholesalers Association, pledge to continue to work with Congress to pass the CARE Act in order to reaffirm state authority to regulate alcohol and impede unrestrained litigants who are trying to erode that authority.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) is the national trade organization representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and/or brokers of wine and/or spirits.

SOURCE Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America