- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Dick Rivera’s threefold attack on alcohol distributors, the current system of state-based alcohol regulation and related federal legislation is simply wrong (“Don’t destroy small vintners, brewers and distillers,” Commentary, Friday).

First, the state-based regulatory system was originally created by the states to guard against previous alcohol industry excesses and that system remains in line with the public interest. Within that system, distributors are licensed by both the state and federal governments and promote localized control, consumer protection and near-unlimited consumer choice. This is evidenced by the 50,000 wine labels and 13,000 beer labels available nationally.

Second, Mr. Rivera essentially advocates for a one-size-fits-all, nationalized approach to alcohol regulation that prevents states from determining how, when and where alcohol is sold in their communities. This ignores the fact that the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution unambiguously grants this power to the states, not to the federal government and not to the federal courts.

Third, the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act is a direct response to a wave of litigation intended to restrict the ability of states to regulate alcohol. The CARE Act simply clarifies that states continue to have the constitutional right to make their own alcohol-related decisions. Contrary to Mr. Rivera’s assertions, the CARE Act will not in any way curtail a state’s ability to allow direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments, nor will it allow states to discriminate against out-of-state wineries in favor if those in-state. For example, the Maryland General Assembly recently approved specific conditions allowing adult-aged consumers to receive direct shipments from wineries and the CARE Act will do nothing to change that. In fact, the CARE Act would actually protect the state should a lawsuit be filed trying to prevent the state from allowing such shipments.

The CARE Act is about who should make alcohol decisions, not what those decisions should be. We agree with the Constitution: Alcohol policy decisions are best left to the states and local communities, not the federal government and not an unelected judge sitting in a faraway court.

REBECCA SPICER

Vice president, Public Affairs & Communications

National Beer Wholesalers Association

Alexandria


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