14 August 2005

Tentative hallelujah

Recently I celebrated the Supreme Court's decision in Granholm v. Heald, which paved the way for wineries to ship wines across state borders, heretofore illegal in most states, Florida among them.

Then, last week, a federal judge here in the Tampa area, James Whittemore (if his name sounds familiar, it's because you watched too much Teri Schiavo coverage) ruled Florida's ban on wine shipping unconstitutional in accordance with the ruling in Granholm.

That's as much as I know for sure. I heard about it last week, and, as you can read in this article from California, all the ruling did was eliminate an old law. As some Florida papers noted, this really doesn't mean the doors have been thrown open for legal wine shipping into the state. It means the state can no longer enforce its laws against doing so. But mail carriers may not care to risk handling wine shipments until the legislature has a chance to act on wine shipping generally, sometime next spring.

This is still good news. But then today I saw this little blurb on the local 24-hour news channel, Bay News 9. Bay News 9 is good for weather and has good coverage of local issues, but I'm not sure they do a lot of research into stories that come from beyond the Bay area.

In any event, BN9 is reporting that "State legislators made the change last week and now wine companies are gearing up for added sales." What change? How did legislators do anything when they're not in session? I don't know. My understanding has been that state Sen. Paula Dockery is planning to introduce legislation next session codifying the way wine can be shipped in the state. But the next session starts in March. What law, exactly, did legislators pass? Bay News 9 isn't telling.

They do say that, "Initially banned by the state of Florida because of the potential of underage purchasers, it's an effort by winery's to sell wine via the Internet then send it through the mail. A concern no more after the law was overturned." (This is a direct copy from the TelePrompTer, which means the guy writing the TelePrompTer text is an apostrophe abuser. Since he's probably also the station's news manager, that's sort of distressing.) They also note that, "With the House of Representatives passing the new law, it makes it reciprocal to where a state that ships wine to us, now we can ship to them."

Now, again, we have the question about what the House actually did, since most House members are at home in their districts, taking bribes under the table and pretending to go to their day jobs. But... well, if Bay News 9 is right, then I can't wait to start ordering wine over the internet. Probably tomorrow. 50 Wines from 50 States, I plan to call it. Yeehaw.

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