Friday, September 23, 2005

More on Michigan Shipping Bill

Chris Ward, sponsor of the now infamous Bill 4959 in the Michigan Senate, defends his bill in a new interview in the Detroit News.

Ward claims that the reason wineries are prevented from self-distributing (to hotels, restaurants, etc) is that he's keeping in line with the recent Supreme Court decision. He's slicing it pretty fine to do so too! The SC determined that states can't prohibit against direct shipments (essentially allowing wineries to ship directly to consumers, thereby bypassing wholesalers). Ward implies that "Napa Valley wineries" would be immediately self-distributing to restaurants and retail locations as well as consumers.

This is simply ludicrous, and apparently his sole Red Herring for justifying this ban. One of the many benefits that wholesalers provide to wineries is the distribution function. That is, they get the product to market, bill the individual accounts and pay wineries (albeit less per case than they get if they can sell direct). The important thing to remember here is that no winery wants to self distribute nationwide (unless they are the size of Gallo). You might be talking about 10,000+ customers rather than 50 customers! A logistical nightmare of shipping and billing that small wineries are not equipped to deal with. Wineries want to do what they do well (make wine), not get into the distribution end of the business.

Basically, this is more protectionism for the Michigan wholesalers who bought and paid for this bill. Ward makes no qualms about taking money from them and then submitting their legislation for them too....

"Q. Do you feel guilty about accepting money from the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, who stand to benefit from the bill you introduced?

A. No, because their original bill (banning shipping for all wineries) was rewritten to allow unlimited direct shipping to consumers. They (Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association) weren’t happy about the changes.

Q. Can you sleep at night after taking money from PACs (i.e. Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association) and supporting legislation they stand to benefit from?

A. Yes. PACs are part of the process. Nearly every lawmaker takes PAC money, including the governor. If we abstained every time money was given, we could never have a quorum in the House or Senate. Every member of the House and Senate, other than a handful, take PAC money. It’s part of the process. That’s how we fund campaigns in the state, like it or not. That’s how we do it. "

ugh.....I feel ill.......


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