At the time of this writing, it appears likely that I-1100 will fall slightly short of the necessary votes needed for approval. We know that some of you will be relieved and and some very disappointed by this outcome. One thing we can likely all agree on is that I-1100 was not an ideal solution to all the regulatory problems faced by small Washington wineries. At the very least this issue engendered open and vigorous debate on the current and future course of the Washington wine industry.
So what's next for FWWS? The short answer is we pick up right where we left off, except that where we left off is a bit of a misnomer since we never stopped working on our legislative proposals. We have already secured a promise for a meeting with the current chair (and at this moment apparently next session's chair) of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee together with representatives of the Liquor Control Board, the Wine Institute and our contract lobbyists, Mark Gjurasic and Terry Kohl. We hope to discuss all of the following:
- Our "Payment Parity Act" that would apply the same terms to business checks and other customary forms of payment as were recently applied to EFT transactions. This would allow you to voluntarily leave wine with vendors without immediate (CoD) payment and not thereby surrender your right to collect the money due because you have broken the law.
- Our "Tax Reporting Relief Act" that would allow wineries producing fewer than 5,000 gallons per year to file state production reports annually rather than monthly at their option.
- Our "Craft Wineries" act that would allow wineries producing fewer than 10,000 cases annually to register, at their option, as a "Craft Winery" and be exempted from many of the restrictions (or some would say "protections") contained in the current liquor code such as delivered pricing, co-advertising restrictions, etc.
- The Wine Institute's proposal to further define the term "winery." Since it has never been apparent to us why this is necessary, we will be able to get some clarification on that point, to give input on keeping any new definitions as simple as possible, and to ensure that in providing for the existence of any potential new business models, the new proposal does not eliminate any rights currently enjoyed by wineries. We are specifically concerned with any potential limitations on the presently unlimited right of wineries to make "negociant" wine at facilities owned by other wineries.