Legislature could allow wine to be shipped into Mississippi

Updated: Feb. 4, 2019 at 2:41 PM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Two bills are under consideration in state legislative committees that would allow direct sales and shipment of wine to Mississippi residents.

Members of both the House and Senate have authored bills, and local liquor stores are lobbying against them.

Similar measures failed last year.

Shawn Guider, owner of Petit Bois Liquors is closely monitoring the progress of the bills. An organization formed by liquor store owners has hired lobbyists and is fighting the proposed legislation, saying it would hurt their businesses.

“It wouldn’t be good to lose the revenue if they could just order from home and get it directly from the manufacturer. We would lose the sales here,” Guider said.

Mississippi is among a handful of states that doesn’t allow wine to be shipped. All wine and liquor goes through the Revenue Department’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division.

ABC collects taxes from sales, and Guider wonders why the state would want to do anything to upset what is a lucrative system for Mississippi.

“The Alcohol Beverage Control is the largest tax producing entity for the Department of Revenue. They get 7% sales tax when I buy it and 7% sales tax from the consumer. I think they paid more than a million dollars last year, and they would lose all that,” said Guider.

The state is currently suing four mail order companies for sending wine to Mississippi. Attorney General Jim Hood and Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson are asking a judge to make them stop the practice.

Those opposed to allowing out of state sales are concerned about two other things.

First, they are concerned about regulating Mississippi’s patchwork of wet areas where alcohol sales are legal and the dry counties where it’s illegal. Then, there is the matter of making sure minors don’t receive shipments.

Representative Charles Busby (R), of Pascagoula, sponsoring the house version of the bill, says delivery companies can make sure that doesn’t happen.

Both bills face a Tuesday deadline to get out of committee.

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