Arkansas Wants to Ban California Wine Over Egg-Laying Law

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attribution: Jen Hayden

By Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos

The Arkansas House voted 57-19 to advance to the Senate a bill that outlaws wine imports from any state that imposes a “substantial burden” on the Arkansas agriculture industry. The Secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department would determine what is burdensome under the bill and the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division would be able to sanction or revoke a license of a business that broke the law.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas of Bentonville, Arkansas, believes that California’s 2008 egg-laying law is a slight to Arkansasians, and, as a result he wants Arkansas to ban Californian wine — you know, like retribution.

“It’s eggs today. Is it chickens tomorrow or cattle on down the road? Is it air quality restrictions?” Douglas said. “This could be just the beginning.”Douglas previously said he wrote the bill primarily to send a strong anti-regulation message to California legislators. The bill targets only wine imports, he said, because California exports lots of wine.

What kinds of draconian regulations is Douglas speaking about? He’s talking about this California law:

Proposition 2 created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Since this proposition passed (pretty easily), there have been a slew of states appealing the decision on constitutional grounds, followed by a federal judge, Kimberly Mueller, dismissing the case last year for lack of standing.  The court pointed out that the plaintiffs were claiming injury-in-fact to all of the citizens in their respective states, and reasoned that the increased cost of egg production in the non-California states challenging the law did not affect the general citizenry of those states.  Instead, the court determined that the California legislation would only impact a subset of egg producers – those that have not conformed their farming procedures to comply with the California rules.  Thus, according to the court, the plaintiffs did not bring the case on behalf of “a substantial segment of their populations.”

As for Dan Douglas? He’s having a hard time getting the full support of his fellow Republicans.

Republican Rep. Stephen Meeks of Greenbrier voted against the bill and said the ban would harm Arkansas residents by limiting what they can buy. He also worried the bill could prompt retaliation from California lawmakers.”Where does it end?” Meeks asked. “When states start issuing tariffs against each other or putting up a lot of barriers I think that’s probably not a good precedent to set for the economic future of the country.”

Unfortunately, as much as people like their farmers and their eggs, they love their alcohol and Arkansas gets as estimated 90% of its wine from California.

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Kos