Dear Dr. XX
Thank you for writing to express your opposition to H.R. 5034, the "Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act." I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
Congress is expressly granted the power under the Constitution to enact federal laws that supersede state laws. While sometimes it is necessary to preempt state law for the sake of uniformity, Congress should only do so with careful consideration of the effects on state laws and protection of consumers. With these goals in mind, Congress has long sought to ensure that states can regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages consistent with their public policy but cannot discriminate against out-of-state shippers. In the 2005 case of Granholm v. Heald, the Supreme Court held that state schemes that allow in-state, but not out-of-state, wineries to make direct sales to consumers discriminate against interstate commerce and unconstitutionally limit direct-sale shipments.
I have long supported the ability of wineries to ship directly to consumers. Direct shipping enhances consumer choice and can be an important market for small, niche wineries – many of which are located in California.
On April 15, 2010, Representative Bill Delahunt (D-MA) introduced H.R. 5034, the "Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act." This legislation would declare that it is the policy of Congress that each State or territory shall have the primary authority to regulate alcoholic beverages and that state alcohol regulations shall be accorded a strong presumption of validity when they are challenged in court. I understand your concern that this bill could allow states to discriminate against or otherwise limit direct-to-consumer shipments from local wineries in California to out-of-state customers.
H.R. 5034 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and companion legislation has not been introduced in the Senate. Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should this bill or related legislation be considered by the Senate
Again, thank you for writing. I hope you will continue to keep in touch with me on issues of importance to you. If you should have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.
United States Senator