Wisconsin’s new legislation, SB 332, includes legal principles that are so out of the ordinary that when these principles were introduced into law in Illinois, they couldn’t get past step 1 in the legislative process and died a quick death.
The legal faux pas in the legislation derive from the Uniform Law Commission’s work on the Alcohol Direct-Shipping Compliance Act. Aaron Gary, a Senior Attorney in the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, was on the drafting committee for the Alcohol Direct-Shipping Compliance Act and it’s a safe assumption that the proposed language came from his work on the Commission.
In Section 67 of the bill, it indicates that “A duly authorized employee of the department division may file a complaint with the clerk of circuit court for the jurisdiction in which the premises of a person holding a license issued under this chapter is situated, alleging one or more of the following about a licensee: SECTION 67. 125.12 (4) (ag) 9. of the statutes is created to read: 125.12 (4) (ag) 9. That the licensee has shipped alcohol beverages to any person in another state in violation of that state’s law”
The legislation goes on further to indicate that after a hearing, the division may revoke, suspend or refuse to renew a hearing.
What I find interesting is how Wisconsin wants to impose itself as the interstate legal tribunal of other state laws. Under the 21st Amendment, the states operate as separate entities and have distinct laws, which are unique to the states. Wisconsin would go over the top of this concept and make itself an authority on another state’s issues.
Further, Wisconsin would allow itself to bring charges that another state otherwise has not brought. So, if someone ships to Montana and Montana did not bring charges, under the law, Wisconsin could bring charges based on what they deem violates Montana law. In other words, Wisconsin takes on a dispute over what it deems illegal activity in another state, even though Montana does not press forward with a violation.
Wisconsin is essentially proposing itself as the Cowboy of the alcohol regulatory scene.
But we also must look at whether Wisconsin even can maintain jurisdiction over these cases. The alleged crime of illegal shipping did not target Wisconsin but another state. If the supposed illegal activity did not happen in Wisconsin, how are they charging someone with a violation?
The Illinois legislation was introduced and then tabled, because many people had concerns over issues like these.
In Illinois the concepts from the Alcohol Direct-Shipping Compliance Act were set forth in stand-alone legislation, in Wisconsin, they are more camouflaged as part of a larger major reform bill. The Bill itself has many positive changes within it.
Illinois decided playing cowboy was not in its best interest. Maybe its time Wisconsin to take a breath and determine whether they want to play liquor cowboy.
Finally, the legislation includes a provision to license fulfillment houses, I have written in the past how this practice is unconstitutional, as the state lacks jurisdiction over an entity that does not do business in the state. Jurisdiction is a principle meant to prevent government overreach and affords the accused due process from the government bringing them into the state without sound constitutional grounds.
Fulfillment house legislation is dangerous as it threatens to weaken constitutional protections guaranteed by the concept of jurisdiction, which acts as a check on government overreach.