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Wine.com has held a retail wine license and operated a warehouse in Washington for the last eight years, serving over 28,000 Washington customers. In recent months, the company has been calling into question the validity of Washington's laws against out-of-state wine retailers. At a hearing yesterday, representatives from Wine.com spoke in favor of the bill. Under the proposed bill, the company and other online wine retailers would be able to ship wine to Washington customers from other states, increasing product selection and lowering prices.
"We're for free trade," said Rich Bergsund, Wine.com CEO. "State laws against out-of-state wine retailers are anti-consumer and unenforceable, and we're pleased to see Washington respond in this manner. This bill is good for consumers, good for the state of Washington and good for online retailers like Wine.com."
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must treat in-state and out-of-state wineries the same with regard to direct shipping to the state's consumers. As a result, Washington has had a permit which allows direct shipment from out-of-state wineries since June 2006. Out-of-state retailers, however, have not been allowed to ship into Washington. Last week, the Federal Court in Northern District of Texas ruled that the Supreme Court decision also applies to retailers, not just wineries. Senate Bill 6384 would apply the same principle to retailers and make it consistent with the Supreme Court and Texas rulings.
"We're calling on all wine enthusiasts interested in free trade to voice their opinions on this matter," said Mike Osborn, Wine.com Founder. "We've sent an email to our customers in Washington to make them aware of the issue and ask for their support. The result will be the availability of a much broader selection of wine at more competitive prices. If Washington moves to support free trade it is our hope that other states will follow suit."
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