Source: Chicago Tribune
August 26, 2016
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Friday that toughens oversight and enforcement of shipping wine into Illinois and transporting alcohol across state lines.
It's a win for Illinois alcohol wholesalers who lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 2989, sponsored by state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East Saint Louis. The bill enhances penalties on those illegally shipping or transporting alcohol into the state. It also raises licensing fees across the board for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and establishes more of an audit process for booze coming into the state.
But the bill had detractors, too, particularly from residents who purchased hard-to-find wine from out-of-state retailers. An online petition calling on Rauner to veto the bill garnered more than 1,500 supporters. Retailers aren't permitted to ship into Illinois, though some still do, but wineries are allowed to do so if licensed with the state. Now, retailers who take the risk could face felony charges.
Representatives of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, a trade group funded by the state's two largest wholesalers, Breakthru Beverage Group and Southern Wine & Spirits, have said the bill will bring in more revenue that will help the state's oversight of bootleggers and "bad actors" of e-commerce.
"(The bill) protects the health and safety of Illinois consumers by promoting compliance with state law. It also gives the Illinois Liquor Control Commission the resources it needs to prevent out-of-state suppliers from taking advantage of a loophole that allowed them to direct ship wine into Illinois without paying taxes," said Karin Lijana Matura, executive director of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, in a statement Friday.
Some opponents of the bill argued the opposite. By prohibiting out-of-state retailers from shipping into Illinois, the state is missing out on "millions of dollars" in tax revenue and licensing fees, said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers, in an interview earlier this week.
Fourteen states currently allow out-of-state retailers to ship to their residents, said Wark, who said he expected the matter to eventually be settled in the courts.