Find Me


Restaurants & Bars



HR 5034 and the New Congress

HR 5034 has been parked in the House Judiciary Committee, where the Democratic chairman, John Conyers, didn’t seem to have a lot of interest in it. With the Republican takeover of the House, Conyers is out. The ranking minority member — and presumed incoming chairman — of the committee is Lamar Smith of Texas. Rep. Smith is a cosponsor of the bill.

Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose family is in the wine business, was an outspoken critic of HR 5034 and vowed to constituents that the proposed law would never see the floor. Pelosi is out, too, replaced (presumably) by John Boehner, who has a cozy and mutually profitable relationship with the same beer wholesalers who wrote HR 5034 in the first place.


  • Thomas Pellechia


    Does this mean that you change your prognosis of the bill’s possibilities?

  • Tom Johnson

    It would put, as economists say, “upward pressure” on the likelihood of passage. While I wish I could do a Nate Silver and say something like, “The odds of passage have increased from 10% to 35%,” I can’t. I don’t have enough data — and I don’t think anyone does. But the odds of passage have to have gone up.

    I don’t think anything has changed when it comes to the effect of HR 5034. HR 5034 continues to not be what it is routinely described as, which is a law that will put an end to direct shipping. People should stop saying that because there’s nothing in the law that does anything to reverse direct shipping laws already on the books. It gives states no more power to regulate than they already have. It will not make it suddenly Constitutional for states to treat wine produced in-state differently than they treat wine produced out-of-state. It may, at the margins, make it easier for states to defend against lawsuits, which are currently the avenue of choice for direct shipping advocates. Ultimately, no matter what anyone says, the battle over direct shipping is going to be fought in state legislatures, not courts.

    In politics, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and because wine lovers don’t care enough about the issue to do anything but bitch in blog comments, distributors and retailers hold sway over state regulations. If each state had a few thousand wine lovers agitating and giving campaign contributions in favor of direct shipping, there’d be a lot more conversation about finding a way for wine lovers to get the wines they want. Because there aren’t, there isn’t. Feel free to go to Tom Wark’s blog to complain about the vast injustice, but understand that you’re not accomplishing anything by doing that.

  • Chris Miller

    Tom & Tom,

    I have been trying to get as many people to recognize this bill for what it is and live in a wine region that has a HR 5034 sponsor that may have lost a close election. Seems Tim Bishop believed that the bill was going to benefit the Long Island Wineries (along with the $30,000 to his campaign fund – oops).

    If Tim Bishop does end up loosing a close race in the next few days, it could be due to his support and sponsorship of the bill. Right now it looks like Bishop is loosing by about 400 votes… with 40 wineries in Suffolk and an average of 10 employees each – could that be the difference?