Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Embottled Legislation

The legal case against the recently expanded bottle law, will be heard in Federal District Court in New York tomorrow-and the compelling need for injunctive relief is obvious to anyone with even a smidgen of knowledge of the beverage industry. Put simply, if no relief is given, not a single bottler or franchised beer wholesaler will be in compliance with the obligation to have a "NY Only" UPC code and label on each and every container when the law is supposed to go into effect on June 1st.

As the Politicker pointed out last week: "In a complaint filed in United States District Court in Manhattan, the water companies argued that the labeling requirement violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause because the language of the bill excludes any drink to which sugar has been added, like sports drinks. The complaint also charges that the requirement violates the Constitution’s interstate commerce protections because the wording of the law also seems to ban companies from selling the New York-labeled bottles in other states."

So if no court action is taken, by next Monday we will likely have no legal container of beer, soda or water on the shelves of New York's retail outlets. Which is why Senator Kruger has introduced his bill that would eliminate this UPC requirement-and delay implementation until October. Unfortunately, the Assembly has a contradictory measure that would preserve the UPC mandate, and the governor has also weighed in with a proposal to trim the handling fee requirement; further complicating an already murky situation.

So with the clock running, it looks as if it may be up to the court to put a delay in place so that all of these issues can be hashed out in a reasonable time frame. Otherwise, we may see empty beverage aisles at the beginning of next week.

Thanks for the shout out from the Observer; and from Liz as well.