Alcohol coalition launched
Organization working to protect Ohio liquor laws
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Updated: Sunday, February 14, 2010 23:02
An organization dedicated to promoting safe and responsible alcohol sales in Ohio was launched on Sept. 24 in Columbus. The coalition is made up of business leaders, law enforcement, educators and safety and community groups. Its focus is to protect state laws relating to sales of beer, wine and liquor over the Internet or by phone. The group's first meeting - led by coordinator Jo Ann Davidson, former Ohio Speaker of the House, and Pete Thomas, assistant Ohio attorney general - outlined the Coalition's mission to uphold the state's three-tier regulatory system of purchasing alcohol. The system consists of the flow of alcohol from licensed manufacturers to licensed distributors, and on to consumers through licensed retailers. "Our goal is to preserve the longstanding, proven system of alcohol sales in Ohio and to defeat any attempt to make legal Internet, catalog or phone sales of alcohol," Davidson said. According to Lee Oberlag, a member of the coalition and a representative of Hydelberg Distributing, a wholesale beer and wine distributing company, the coalition wants to stop direct supplier-to-consumer purchases. "When retailers purchase over the internet or by phone they are not paying taxes and are avoiding state regulations," Oberlag said. "Alcohol is different than any other beverage. It needs to be regulated because it is a legal drug." Ohio has also joined with 32 other states in filing a "friend of the court" brief with the United States Supreme Court seeking to protect state rights on regulating the sale of alcohol, according to a press release from Attorney General Jim Petro's office. The states of New York and Michigan will have cases heard by the Supreme Court later this year appealing their right to maintain their own alcohol regulation laws as well. Accord-ing to Oberlag, the coalition does not plan on taking any action in the near future, but is awaiting the rulings of the hearings expected sometime in early 2005.