Conway's opposition to wine bill is infuriating

February 10, 2010

As one of her constituents, Monday's story about Sen. Joan Carter Conway's opposition to the direct wine shipping legislation ("Conway rules out end to wine-shipment ban," Feb. 8) infuriated me. It is inherently wrong and undemocratic that a bill with 108 of 188 legislators' signatures is being held in a drawer by the committee chair when six of nine of her committee members are co-sponsors.

Two concerns she cited in today's article, underage access to alcohol and tax collection, are both red herrings that have come up time and time again over the past 29 years that this bill has been heard before the General Assembly, and each time they have been rejected as unsound. The Federal Trade Commission in fact investigated and rejected both such arguments and whole-heartedly supports direct wine shipping nationwide. For the record, the U.S. Postal Service cannot deliver wine to underage recipients, since by law they are not permitted to deliver any controlled substance, and the only two carriers that are, UPS and Fed Ex, have been doing so for years and have a stringent procedure in place for such deliveries. Regarding taxes, Maryland already handles tax collection from numerous out-of-state entities. Moreover, the bill further protects Maryland against any violators by providing for jurisdiction in Maryland courts for civil matters.

As a voter in the Free State, Chairwoman Conway's refusal to allow this bill to have a vote in her committee is a slap in the face to Maryland's legislative process. It proves that absolute power corrupts absolutely. For too long Marylanders have been under the thumb of a powerful alcohol cartel that maintains an archaic system of control over the alcoholic beverage business at consumers' expense. More importantly, Senator Conway's decision and comments have made me lose faith in the system. The lesson I have learned from today's article is, even with majority behind you, as a voter, your voice is only truly heard when it reflects the opinion of the person in power, in this case, Senator Joan Carter Conway. She has already lost my vote in the upcoming election; how many more will she lose from taking this stand?

Michael Heyse, Baltimore

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