Senate Bill 3830 which would bring out-of-state wine retailer shipping to Illinois, should be passed in light of the COVID-19 crisis. This bill is necessary to help Illinois’ budget, ensures Illinois residents are safe, and meets consumer demand and preferences.

The COVID-19 crisis has blown a hole in Illinois’ budget and allowing out-of-state wine retailer shipping we estimate would bring in over $5 million in sales tax revenue. This is one of the few proposals that raises revenue without raising taxes.

By not allowing this law to pass during the COVID-19 crisis, Illinois is purposefully foregoing badly needed revenue for our state budget. Because of COVID-19 many painful budget cuts are necessary and some tax increases may be necessitated. This is not the time to forego needed revenue. Further, direct-to-consumer wine shipping is a fast growing business, and we would be tapping into a rapidly growing revenue source.

There is the excuse that by allowing out-of-state wine retailer shipping that the state will lose excise tax. However, there are 16 states that allow out-of-state wine retailer shipping and there is no evidence of lost excise tax, or that the sales tax revenue gained was less than the excise tax lost. If there is, we would love to see the evidence.

Second, direct to consumer shipping is safe and should be enhanced.

Our opponents indicate that if out-of-state wine retailer shipping is allowed, it would threaten the health, safety, and welfare of Illinois residents.

We disagree and believe wine shipping is necessary to protect Illinois residents.

As the Governor has the state under strict lock down and remaining inside could be the difference between life and death. Direct to consumer wine shipping allows people to remain inside their homes and practice social distancing.

Recently, we saw Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot require liquor stores close at 9:00 pm because too many people were congregating. This became a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of Illinois citizens. Direct to consumer retailer wine shipping helps eliminate the threat.

Third, life has changed and direct-to-consumer wine shipping has grown rapidly. People don’t want to go back to the old ways of buying wine. Also, they will demand more choice which SB 3830 will satisfy. Not passing SB 3830 would result in Illinois consumers not being able to purchase wines they demand.

In concluding, Illinois is experiencing a difficult time and there are many legislative priorities in a very short time. I propose that Illinois pass into a law a concept that does something unique and during this crisis something necessary, raises revenues and saves lives. Without achieving these aims, Illinois will be in a worse off place. So we ask our legislators and the governor to take a step forward, as the status quo is not a good option.

Sean O’Leary

Illinois Lobbyist, National Association of Wine Retailer