Ask your Representatives to co-sponsor Ohio SB32. Letter between the lines can be copied and pasted.
Ohio SB32 is being sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer. This bill would exempt wineries and wine wholesalers that do not produce grape juice from regulation by the the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Prior to passage of the 2009 Ohio State Budget, Ohio wineries and wine wholesalers were regulated by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. However, the 2009 Budget granted funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture (Food Safety Division) to inspect and regulate all Ohio wineries and wine wholesalers whether they produce a food product (unfermented grape juice) or not. We believe this legislation is duplicitous, dishonest, discriminatory and, ultimately, a deterrent to Ohio industry.
Specifically, we believe that Ohio wineries which do not produce grape juice do not need to be regulated or inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture because:
The regulation that presently requires this is duplicitous. All of Ohio's wineries and wine wholesalers (that do not produce grape juice) are already regulated by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
The legislation that presently requires this was ill-conceived and potentially dishonest. There is no documented need for additional regulation of wineries which do not produce a food product. Absence of evidence for the stated problem (food safety) suggests that the law was actually designed to address a disguised problem (need for additional revenue for the Department of Agriculture.)
The regulation that presently requires this places an undue financial hardship on small Ohio wineries. Smaller wineries are less able to bear the burden of dual regulation and facility costs associated with food safety requirements, especially for a product they do not produce.
The regulation that presently requires this gives large Ohio wineries an unjustified advantage over the smaller operations. Wines from Ohio's smaller wineries have been pushed off retail shelves and replaced by those from larger operations. Small wineries have suffered severe financial losses as a result.
The regulation that presently requires this undermines Ohio industry. Forcing Ohio businesses to conform to regulation, while allowing business from out-of-state to function without doing the same, gives an unjustified advantage to out-of-state winery operations and undermines the entire Ohio wine industry as a result.
The regulation that presently requires this restricts Ohio consumers' right to choose local products. As smaller winery offerings are pulled from Ohio retail shelves and larger Ohio wines come up against competition from out-of-state, Ohio consumers will face limitations on their abilities to choose local products. Ohio legislation should support Ohio consumers' right to purchase local products and spend their incomes in support of local businesses and the Ohio economy.
The Kasich Administration vowed to eliminate regulation that is duplicitous or harmful to Ohio business. To date nothing has been done to rectify this particular example of duplicitous and harmful regulation.
Please let your Representatives know that they can help Ohio business by supporting SB32. Let them know that their vote on this Bill will be closely watched by all members of the Ohio wine community and that you consider a vote against the Bill to be a vote against Ohio's business, Ohio business owners and you, directly, as an Ohio consumer.
Thank you for your support and for taking action on this important issue.