Again this year there is a bill in the Maryland legislature that, if enacted, would allow out-of-state wineries to ship wine directly to Maryland residents. The bill is HB 1175, committee-approved version available here (PDF), and it would allow only wineries to ship — not out-of-state wholesalers, retailers, etc. This limitation to wineries is causing some consternation, and in principle I agree that there should be a completely free wine-shipping market, and that the local liquor/wine middlemen have too much political power.
On the other hand, in practice, all I really want is to occasionally order a case of wine from a California or Washington State winery, and if this bill will let me do that, then I’m all for it. If, in order to pass any such bill, a compromise must be made, then that’s okay with me. That’s politics. Every year this kind of bill is introduced, and every year it never makes it out of committee because the committee chairs are in the pocket of the liquor lobby. So, compromise. Baby steps. In the long run, someday, the committee leadership will change, and then maybe more can be done. In the meantime, HB 1175 still has a final vote in the House (I think) and has to get through the Senate before going to Governor O’Malley for signature.
There was another bill — HB 234 — that would have been more farreaching, but the House Economic Matters committee didn’t like it so buhbye. Delegates Waldstreicher, Gutierrez and Carr (all of whom represent Wheaton among other areas) were co-sponsors of HB 234, to their credit. Keep trying!
Saturday UPDATE: HB 1175 passed the House this morning and heads over to the Senate for further consideration.