The majority of public commenters said they were opposed to the alcohol home delivery bill.

Alcohol delivery bill fails despite data showing support

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Government

The majority of public commenters said they were opposed to the alcohol home delivery bill.

The majority of public commenters said they were opposed to the alcohol home delivery bill.

A bill that would allow Delawareans to have alcohol shipped directly to their home had its “part 2” Tuesday after the discussion ran long in a House committee last week.

Even though legislators cited overwhelming support for the idea, the backlash from public stakeholders was too much to overcome and the bill was not released by the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Tuesday.

House Bill 259, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Townsend-Clayton, would allow farm breweries, microbreweries and craft distilleries to conduct direct-to-consumer sales of wine, beer, spirits, mead and hard cider.

Consumers would have to be identified to prove they are at least 21 years old. There’s currently delivery services that deliver tobacco and vape products in which the delivery driver scans the consumer’s ID.

The bill was heard in the same committee last week, but an abundance of public comments pushed the vote to Tuesday.

RELATED: Avalanche of comment delays alcohol shipments bill

Spiegelman once again touted data indicating strong support for at-home alcohol shipments.

A survey shows 85.6% of Delawareans support the ability to legally order alcohol and have it shipped by UPS or FedEx, and 93.1% of people that have at least one drink a month are in support.

RELATED: Another alcohol bill kicks off this year’s General Assembly

Advocates for the bill claimed that this would modernize Delaware’s consumer habits and bring the state to the current times. 

Only Delaware, Mississippi and Utah completely outlaw the process, and Rep. Mike Smith, R-Pike Creek, pointed out that Mississippi has a bill that has already passed the House that would allow some shipments of alcohol. 

Paul Ruggiero, president of N.K.S. Distributor’s and a representative from the Delaware Wholesalers Association said the groups oppose the bill and said it “turns inside out and runs over the wildly successful distribution of alcoholic beverages.”

A representative from Teamsters Local 326 previously said the union opposes the bill because drivers get paid by the case, so if other services like FedEx are doing shipments, the union’s drivers lose out on cash. 

Michael Loiseau from the Division of Alcohol Tobacco Enforcement was against the bill, saying that shifting from the traditional 3-tiered system of alcohol distribution to e-commerce would create a lot of challenges surrounding regulations. 

The tiers are importers or producers, distributors and retailers. 

The basic structure is that producers sell their products only to wholesale distributors who then sell to retailers, and only retailers may sell to consumers.

There were also concerns vocalized in public comment about delivery drivers not properly verifying the age of consumers, or not checking at all. 

Alexis Nunan, a manager at Harvest Ridge Winery, supported the bill. 

“How am I supposed to be able to grow as a wine club, grow as a family without being able to ship to my own state into my own home?” she said.

Another commenter, who works for a distributor, said it doesn’t make sense to make it easier for people to be able to purchase as much alcohol as they want without leaving their own home, as that isn’t conducive to great mental health at a time when the nation is putting mental health at the forefront of discussion. 

A woman from a different winery said the bill helps the smaller businesses who won’t be able to produce enough product to get into retail stores. She said the bill makes it easier to grow the business and expose the product across the state. 

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