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RI lawmakers consider bill that would allow wineries to sell directly to consumers

A newly proposed Senate Act would allow wine producers, in and out of the state, with a shipping license, to ship directly to consumers in Rhode Island. (WJAR)

Five Rhode Island state senators are looking to change what wines consumers can buy.

A newly proposed Senate Act would allow wine producers, in and out of the state, with a shipping license, to ship directly to consumers in Rhode Island.

Currently, the only way to ship wine to the Ocean State is to make an order in-person at the winery.

Rhode Island State Senator Adam Satchell, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Ryan William Pearson, Sen. Daniel Da Ponte, Sen. Steve Archambault, and Frank Lombardo, said that can be a hassle. He cited extra time and extra shipping costs for customers.

“It’s needed now so that consumers can get access to the products that they want,” said Satchell. “It's needed now because we can get the extra tax revenue from the online sales.”

But for small business owners, the change isn't welcomed.

“Are you kidding me?” asked David Barricelli, who owns a Cranston liquor store.

Barricelli said giving buyers the option to buy direct could force him to close up shop.

“It would shut us down,” said Barricelli. “I would have to get a new job.”

NBC 10 News asked Satchell if he reached out to liquor store owners in Rhode Island for feedback.

“The liquor stores that I've talked to wouldn't be very happy about it,” said Satchell. “And the liquor story lobbyists have made that known in the hearings.”

The state senator explained it was about his constituents' right to choose.

“I understand where they're coming from,” said Barricelli. “But this is where the state has sided on for our small business.”

NBC 10 then asked the state senator if this proposal would encourage people to spend money out of state.

“I'm not saying that I'm not pushing people to spend money here,” said Satchell. “I think they still will. I think this is just another way for people to get access to the things that they want.”

Satchell also added, “Local businesses could possibly lose money, but I think for something like this, it's going to be stuff that those liquor stores aren't providing right now.”

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