New Postal Reform Bill Could Affect Shipping Wine
On September 23, 2010, Senator Thomas Carper introduced a new bill to the Senate. The new bill, titled the The Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation (POST) Act of 2010, serves to reduce the number of home delivery days, close extraneous post offices, and open retail outlets or automated kiosks in grocery stores and other retails stores that would be less expensive to run. The bill creates additional, immediate financial relief for the Postal Service, but with respect to the material traditionally published by On Reserve, will not be discussed in this article. (For further information, please read Postal Service Reform Bill Set for Release.) The new POST Act does serve a more pertinent role in the wine industry: if enacted under its current edition, it would allow for shipping of wine and beer through the USPS system. Currently, wine and beer has been shipped through private shipping services, including FedEx and UPS.
This bill is especially interesting in light of both the Supreme Court’s holding in Granholm v. Heald, as well as subsequent federal court decisions that deal with wine shipment issues, and in light of the aim of H.R. 5034. Whereas the POST Act aims to increase the flow of revenue and allows the federal Postal Service system to provide additional services by offering options like shipping wine and beer, one might wonder how this Act would assist the Postal Service if H.R. 5034 is simultaneously enacted. If both bills are to become law, wineries in states that disallow direct shipment would not be allowed to directly ship wine to customers through any means, including the Postal Service system. For supporters of the POST Act who seek to increase the flow of revenue throughout the federal Postal Service system, opposing H.R. 5034—a bill that seeks to, essentially, limit the shipping of wine and beer through means such as the Postal Service—would be within the best interest of the Postal Service.