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News Analysis: Direct Wine Shipping Fallout

February 15, 2010

After last week’s press conference announcing majority-level support for direct wine shipments to Maryland customers, the issue heated up in the press following comments from Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee chairwoman Sen. Joan Carter Conway. The senator indicated that she would not bring the bills ending the ban on direct wine shipment up for vote before the full chamber in an example of representative democracy gone wrong. Because of her individual concerns – largely the issue of sales to minors – Senator Conway can prevent a debate and vote among the full group of officials elected to represent voters across the state.

The next day, the Sun published an Op-Ed refuting her concerns point by point and summing up with strong words for the Senator and other Maryland lawmakers:

Legalizing direct shipment is good for consumers and good for Maryland’s wine industry. Such obvious benefits easily trump the objections of self-interested liquor wholesalers, retailers and even regulators who seek to preserve Maryland’s antiquated liquor laws. Woe to any politician who thinks the voters won’t notice such glaring arrogance.

With 6 of 9 committee members and a majority of Maryland lawmakers supporting this change in legislation, how is Senator Conway justified in making such a decision? She isn’t. A technicality in Maryland’s system of government enables her self-interest, and unfortunately leaves most of us (everyone outside of her Baltimore district) with little ability to find recourse during the next election. Moreover, her actions further disillusion me with our state’s government and show a deeply troubling conciliatory stance toward the powerful and deep-pocketed liquor lobby.

However, not all hope is lost – politicians can never be totally deaf to voter concerns, so make your voice heard with an e-mail or letter to your representatives. A complete list can be found online at  http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/.

/end rant

-Matthew K.

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