States were granted the authority to regulate distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages following Prohibition. Illinois' regulatory, three-tiered system ensures the lawful control of beverage alcohol: it is delivered responsibly to licensed retailers, who are accountable for selling alcohol only to those of legal age. Additionally, distributors and retailers pay gallonage and retail taxes, contributing millions to the economic viability of Illinois.
Illinois tweaked the three-tier system after wineries argued they needed to sell their wine to tourists, thus promoting the regional economy. Since then, wineries have stretched the ruling and now sell wine over the Internet and through the mail.
Since when does selling wine over the Internet and through the mail promote tourism? The wineries are abusing their exception and we have now opened our borders to unregulated, unlimited shipments of alcohol. In response, they call beer distributors the bad guys.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that out-of-state wineries have the same privileges as in-state wineries, thus allowing them, as well, to ship direct to consumers. Simply put, Illinois cannot discriminate against out-of-state wineries. The ruling gives beer and spirits manufacturers the opportunity to claim Illinois discriminates against them by not granting the same privilege as the wineries enjoy. Ultimately, it could result in the direct shipment of beer and hard liquor to consumers in Illinois.Licensed beer distributors are fighting for passage of legislation to reduce the potential for unlimited, unregulated shipment of alcohol into Illinois. The legislation will not make it impossible for wineries to sell their product.
This legislation simply helps Illinois maintain control over all alcoholic beverages shipped into Illinois.
Most importantly, it protects children from the ease of buying alcohol over the Internet, through the mail and over the phone, with face-to-face age verification.
The writer is president, Ra-Jac Distributing Co., Normal.