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Wine shipping rules stall in House

A proposal to regulate out-of-state wine orders flowing to Florida wine connoisseurs looks like it's going to stall again this year, after the bill was postponed indefinitely in one House council this morning.

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, outlines how wineries outside the state could obtain Florida shipping licenses, pay taxes and prevent alcohol sales to underage drinkers.

A similar bill died in the Legislature last year.

And an ammendment to the bill limiting out-of-state shipping to wineries that produce fewer than 250,000 gallons a year led Bogdanoff to ask that the bill remain in the House Job & Entrepreneurship Council.

"It's freedom of choice," she said. "I'm not sure there's justification for the cap, but I'm not sure I have the support in the Florida Legislature to pass it without."

Florida law allows shipments from in-state wineries but bans direct shipment from outside Florida. The state backed off the enforcement ban after a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case found similar bans in other states unconstitutional.

But representatives from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation have said without state shipping regulations, Florida has had trouble enforcing laws on alcohol shipments, taxation and underage drinking.

The department also has suggested that the state might crack down on out-of-state wine orders after session if the Legislature doesn't approve shipping regulations but has said it's too soon to know exactly what it would do.

Comments

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Currently if I purchase wine direct from the producer I have to show id when it is delivered to my address. UPS/FedEx will NOT leave the package WITHOUT showing proof of age. The argument that direct shipment is contributiing to uderage drinking is bogus. The real complaint the regulators have is collecting the tax. They are so concerned about how to tax these purchases and requiring every winery to register and pay rediculous fees to ship into Florida. Somehow they will tax and regulate this one small industry to death and Florida consumers will forever be limited in their choices of wines.

Art Darnell

As usual the State of Florida remains in the stone age.What would they do with the tax money anyway? The more money you give government they will spend.No politician can show restraint when the money is there to spend.What the consumers want as far as buying wine should not be their concern.Underage drinking has always been out of control.Don't blame it on people that want to order a $50.00 bottle of wine.

Steve

When I was in my teens and 20s, wine was never anywhere in the picture. Simply put, it was too expensive and not enough bang for the bucks I had at that time. I would say that even today, nearly all young people who are or are not of legal age to purchase or consume alcohol see wine as something that's put on the table at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The argument that direct shipment of wine contributes to underage drinking is completely without merit. The Florida legislature should worry about how to fund education or lower homeowners insurance rates, not where or from whom Floridians of legal drinking age choose to buy their wine.

www.freethegrapes.org

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