Myth vs. Fact

The Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2011

The current system is not under attack, it works well and there is no need for this legislation.

Some online alcohol sellers, big box retailers, international alcohol suppliers and professional plaintiffs are using distant federal courts to remove the existing system of safeguards and overrule states’ abilities to decide how, when and where alcohol is sold in their local communities. Over half the states have been sued challenging their alcohol laws. The lawsuits have attacked laws pertaining to safeguards that require a face-to-face transaction (needed for I.D. checks) to buy alcohol or whether states can regulate small businesses differently than big businesses. The language from adverse decisions has been used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to open new litigation as well as force the state to pay attorneys fees. The CARE Act will end this gradual erosion of state rights.

Challenges to state alcohol laws can just be resolved individually in court.

Legal challenges are not being resolved in court because federal courts are issuing conflicting rulings after interpreting the same laws. For example, the 1st Circuit said a state law that treated small wineries and big wineries differently was unconstitutional. In the 9th Circuit, the court said it was permissable. Unelected federal judges should not set a state’s alcohol policy. Only states have authority to set alcohol policy under the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This bill is an “industry food fight.”

Protection of the Constitution and a state’s power to regulate alcohol is not an “industry food fight.”  Numerous organizations have voiced support for the CARE Act including those representing alcohol regulators, public safety professionals, community leaders and licensed beverage retailers. Also, the public supports effective alcohol regulation.  A national public opinion survey released by the Center for Alcohol Policy confirms that 77 percent of Americans support the states’ ability to set the alcohol laws and regulations that help keep them safe.

This bill would undermine existing federal regulatory authority over alcohol and undermine national uniformity of regulation.

The 21st Amendment provides for state-based regulation of alcohol. States currently have the authority to set excise tax rates, regulate composition, approve labels, restrict advertising and regulate importation.  This bill does not amend or alter the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, which provides federal guidelines in many of these areas.

This bill will “overturn” the 2005 Granholm decision.

The language of the CARE Act makes clear the congressional support for the holding in Granholm, prohibiting state laws that discriminate against suppliers.

This bill would ban my state’s law that allows direct shipping of wine to my house.

This bill does not address direct-to-consumer sales or any specific state alcohol law. It would not preempt a state law that allows direct-to-consumer sales. It would not mandate a direct-to-consumer sales law where there currently is not one. More than 30 states allow alcohol to be sold direct-to-consumer from a producer. Upon passage, the CARE Act would actually PROTECT those laws if someone were to challenge them in court.

If you have any questions about the bill itself, please feel free to read it in its entirety by clicking here.

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