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US: Drinks trade unites to oppose latest HR 5034 draft

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US trade bodies for beer, wine and spirits producers and retailers have united to oppose the latest draft of a bill that they say would allow individual US states to discriminate against out-of-state producers.

The trade bodies, including the Distilled Spirits Council, Wine Institute and Beer Institute, have written to members of Congress to express their misgivings about the bill, known as HR 5034.

An amended version of HR 5034 seeks to prevent states from discriminating against specific producers. However, the trade bodies argue that this amendment will not prevent general discrimination against out-of-state producers and retailers.

"By its very language, the primary function of this legislation is to affirmatively permit states to pass discriminatory laws that are in opposition to the Commerce Clause," said the trade bodies in their letter, dated 20 September. "While the wording may have changed, much of the underlying results remain the same,” they said.

Other signatories to the letter were WineAmerica, the Brewers Association and National Association of Beverage Importers.

However, the bill is backed by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), and was introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Its aim, they argue, is to preserve the sanctity of the state legislatures in regulating alcohol.

Opponents of HR 5034 were boosted last month when California's Senate joined their ranks.

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For more in-depth consideration of HR 5034, click here.


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