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Local bill would give Montgomery Co. wine distributors same protection as beer distributors [Montgomery Advertiser, Ala. :: ]
[February 24, 2014]

Local bill would give Montgomery Co. wine distributors same protection as beer distributors [Montgomery Advertiser, Ala. :: ]

(Montgomery Advertiser (AL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 24--The House Montgomery County Legislation Committee on Monday passed two bills, including one that would give wine distributors doing business in Montgomery County the same protection beer distributors have.

The other bill would transfer the distribution of motor vehicle ad velorum taxes, which are collected in the form of vehicle registration, from the county's revenue commissioner's office to the probate office.

The wine bill, sponsored by Reps. John Knight and Thad McClammy, both D-Montgomery, would prevent wine manufacturers, which are required by law to sell to wholesaler distributors who then sell to restaurants and retail businesses, from stopping sales to wholesalers without notice. The bill sets up a process if a manufacturer decides it no longer wants to sell to a particular wholesaler.

Martin Christie, a lobbyist for International Wine, a wine wholesale company based in Birmingham that does business business in Montgomery County, said the bill protects contractual relationships between manufacturers and wholesalers.

He said wholesalers can spend years marketing and selling a certain brand to restaurants and businesses without any guarantee that the manufacturer won't stop selling the brand to the company.

"This is the type of protection beer (distributors) have in every state and in every county," Christie said.

Baldwin, Mobile and Jefferson Counties have similar protections in place for wine distributors, he said.

The ad velorum bill, sponsored by Knight, would allow the Montgomery County Probate Judge's office to distribute the taxes to the city, county and state.

Right now, the probate judge's office collects the tax and writes a check to the revenue commissioner's office, which then distributes the taxes, said Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed.

"It just takes the duty off the revenue commissioner," Reed said.

A constitutional amendment discussed in the meeting but carried over would reduce the length of the term of an elected Montgomery County Circuit Court judge serves from six years to four years.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, would only apply to the 15th Circuit, or Montgomery County.

"I haven't had any judges call and say they were against it," Holmes said.

Suzanne Edwards, legislative counsel for the Alabama State Bar, said the legislation would make the terms different than the rest of the circuit judges in the state. She said she doesn't know of any other counties that changed the term lengths.

"It would be our position that all those positions remain uniform," Edwards said.

Holmes, who is also chairman of the committee, said there would be at least one more House committee meeting before the local joint meeting, which includes local representatives and senators.

___ (c)2014 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) Visit the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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