About the CARE Act

The Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2011, H.R. 1161, is about WHO should make decisions regarding alcohol regulation rather than WHAT those decisions should be. This important piece of federal legislation was introduced on March 17 by an impressive bipartisan group of nine members of Con­gress: Representatives Jason Chaffetz (UT), Bruce Braley (IA), Howard Coble (NC), John Conyers (MI), Ted Deutch (FL), Jim Jordan (OH), Gary Miller (CA), Dennis Ross (FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL).

The CARE Act recognizes and reaffirms that alcohol is different from other consumer products and that it should continue to be regulated by the states. The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave rise to a state-based sys­tem of regulation that effectively balances community attitudes about alcohol with healthy marketplace competition and vast consumer choice. This is why today’s system allows businesses to grow. The majority of Americans believe state and local governments should decide how alcohol is sold in their communities.

The CARE Act was first introduced in 2010 following a House Judiciary Courts and Competition Policy Subcommit­tee hearing about legal issues facing state alcohol regulation. The bipartisan legislation responded to a plea for help from 40 state attorneys general who were concerned about growing threats to their alcohol regulatory systems. It had 152 co-sponsors and was supported by groups including state alcohol regulators, law enforcement, public health advocates and medical professionals. Following a second congressional hearing a modified version of the bill was proposed. The modified language is the foundation of the CARE Act of 2011.

Since the repeal of Prohibition nearly eight decades ago, states have effectively regulated alcohol in a way that serves the needs of their citizens. Over the past six years, however, more than half of the states have been chal­lenged in federal courts by plaintiffs seeking to reduce the states’ ability to regulate alcohol. Attacks on this working regulatory system present a significant and unnecessary burden to taxpayers at a time of record state deficits. The CARE Act will help limit such unnecessary litigation by clarifying congressional intent and continuing to keep alcohol regulatory decisions at the state level.

The CARE Act 2011 DOES…The CARE Act 2011 DOES NOT…
• Recognize that alcohol is different from other consumer products and that it requires effective regulation;
• Reaffirm and protects states’ authority on the control of sale, distribution and consumption of alcohol (as enshrined in the 21st Amendment);
• Assist states in defending their alcohol laws from litigation that seeks to remove local decision-making regarding alcohol regulation;
• Make clear that alcohol laws should be made at the local level close to the people, not by a distant federal court;
• Prevent alcohol producers from discriminatory actions and would allow direct-to-consumer sales if states permit it, consistent with U.S. Supreme Court ruling;
• Protect the nearly 40 states that allow alcohol to be sold direct-to-consumer from a producer; specifically, the CARE Act would protect these state laws if they were challenged in court.
• Take any policy positions about WHAT specific alcohol regulatory decisions should be;
• Address direct-to-consumer sales or any specific state alcohol law;
• Prevent a state from allowing a producer to sell directly to consumers;
• Mandate a direct-to-consumer sales law where there currently is not one;
• Give the states new power to adopt advertising, labeling, composition or other such laws.

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