The clunkiness of the Commonwealth’s laws on alcohol sales was on full display over the holiday season, as lawmakers scrambled for a way to let charities keep holding wine auctions. No one noticed until close to the holidays, the State House News Service reported, that the law allowing the auctions was set to expire Jan. 1, and lawmakers were refusing to renew it as part of a larger bill to allow out-of-state wineries to ship directly to consumers. While the Legislature eventually extended the current law to allow the charities to auction wine, lawmakers are still stalling on the bill allowing direct shipment of wine. It’s time for Beacon Hill to get moving — and stop putting the interests of liquor stores ahead of consumers.
A US Supreme Court decision in 2005 struck down state laws that prohibit out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to consumers; Massachusetts had such a law. But the Legislature, under pressure from alcohol wholesalers and retailers, has dragged its feet about setting up licensing rules for direct shipments. And in the absence of such rules, few wineries or shipping companies will risk sending wine into the Commonwealth.