Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Washington Wine Institute Fails to Support FWWS Legislative Proposals

Dear FWWS members,

FWWS board members attended a meeting two weeks ago with a State Representative who had agreed to consider sponsoring all of our legislative proposals in the State House of Representatives. Also in attendance were the Executive Directors of the Beer and Wine Wholesaler's Association, and the Washington Wine Institute (WWI). We regret to report that WWI was not only unwilling to support any of our bills but further expressed active opposition to our Craft Winery and Payment Parity bills. Subsequent to this meeting our prospective legislative sponsor withdrew his support for these two bills.

Based on comments from the Wholesaler's representative, trade credit has been removed from the Craft Wineries bill, and language has been proposed for inclusion in that bill in order to prevent large wineries from registering multiple brands as Craft Wineries. We are continuing our dialogue with the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesaler's Association. Unlike the Wholesaler's association the WWI refused to suggest any changes that might make the bills more acceptable.

We understand that the broad range of topics included in the Craft Wineries bill makes immediate support by the WWI less than certain. However their opposition coupled with their unwillingness to offer any constructive criticism is to say the least, unhelpful.

Even more disappointing is the stated opposition of WWI to the Payment Parity Act which is extremely simple and would extend exactly the same terms of transaction to business checks (which virtually all of our members use for self distribution activities) as were extended last year to Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs, which to our knowledge none of our members use for sales to retail licensees. If you do use EFTs for this purpose we would like to hear from you so we do not misrepresent this point).

At this point we would like to ask those many FWWS members who are also members of the Wine Institute to contact them and politely ask for an explanation as to why they are not clarifying the specific reasons for their opposition to the Craft Wineries bill and why they are not wholeheartedly supporting the Payment Parity Bill. Since time is of the essence with the legislative session fast approaching, and further since the Wine Institute Director is presently on vacation, we encourage you to contact Mr. Marty Clubb, WWI Board Chairman at (509)525-0940 or by email to martyc@lecole.com. In your discussions please be aware that a position of "neutral" is not the same as "support" for a bill.

If you would like to discuss this issue further or would like more information as always, please email us and a Board member will contact you.

Thank you for your attention to this vital matter.

The FWWS Board

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