#StopHR1161! Stupid Has No Party

Posted by | Posted in Wine Politics | Posted on 06-10-2011

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who introduced the bill.

HR 1161 – also known as The Wholesaler Protection Act and The Wine Consumer Screwage Act – is up to 81 congressional cosponsors. It’s also a great example of bipartisan boneheadednes — the bill’s sponsors include 37 Democrats and 44 Republicans.

So this isn’t a Democratic bill or a Republican bill – it’s a stupid bill, and stupid has no political party. Supporters on the right say it’s about states’ rights; supporters on the left say it’s about protecting the children. It’s about neither – the bill is about protecting the wholesalers’ government-backed monopoly as the distribution chain for beer and wine.

The Specialty Wine Retailers Association has dived into the numbers a bit further: “Among these 81 sponsors, nine sit on the House Judiciary Committee where the bill is assigned, but where no hearings on the bill have been held or scheduled. A breakdown of current sponsors show that Florida host the most with 12 Co-sponsors. Texas and New Jersey contribute seven co-sponsors. Michigan and Ohio each contribute five sponsors. Illinois and Pennsylvania come in with four sponsors each.”

Last week, we highlighted Jim Gordon’s 3-minute YouTube video urging the wine industry to rally together against HR1161. In the latest issue of Wines & Vines, Gordon has written a blistering editorial about the bill. “We think the bill… is bad for consumers, is inherently anti-free market and most of all is bad for our many, many readers that sell wine direct to consumers. We encourage everyone involved in wine production to get informed about this bill, if they are not already, and to let their elected officials know that wineries and grapegrowers are against it.”

Gordon’s piece further explains how “HR 1161 would strip away Commerce Clause protections that allow regulated interstate shipment of wine to consumers, upend decades of settled case law and undermine federal authority over alcohol.”

Check it out, send it to friends and fellow wine-lovers, and get involved. If your representative is one of the 81 cosponsors of the bill, send an email, mail a letter, or make a phone call to his or her office. Ask whoever picks up the phone why your representative is in the pocket of wholesalers – remember, this bill was literally written by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. If your representative is a cosponsor of this bill, ask why he or she is so opposed to free trade between the states – and ask why he hates wine consumers so much.

If your representative hasn’t signed onto the bill, don’t assume it’ll stay that way. Last year at this time, HR 5034 (an identical bill) had 114 cosponsors – and it eventually garnered 152. So call your representative, and urge him or her to oppose this bill.


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