For many American craft distillers, 2020 was already one of their worst years ever. The COVID-19-related closure of tasting rooms and cocktail bars, loss of tourism, and inability to offer in-store sampling slashed their sales revenue and cut them off from their customers. Then this week, just as it seemed they’d made it through the worst of a terrible year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had one more surprise in store: The agency delivered notice to distilleries that had produced hand sanitizer in the early days of the pandemic that they now owe an unexpected fee to the government of more than $14,000.
“I was in literal disbelief when I read it yesterday,” says Aaron Bergh, president and distiller at Calwise Spirits in Paso Robles, California. “I had to confirm with my attorney this morning that it’s true.” The surprise fee caught distillers completely off guard, throwing the already suffering industry into confusion.
On August 22, 2019, O’Brien presented her case to the Hampton Falls Zoning Board of Adjustment. But the board denied her request, blocking her path to legalizing her tiny house.
The meeting notes said the board denied her request for a variance because it “would be contrary to the public interest because the structure is currently existing, therefore the modifications are not in compliance and should have been discussed prior to the particular building of the structure.”
Additionally, the board felt that the tiny house could diminish property values.
Buried in the enormous spending/COVID-19 relief package that Congress approved this week is a bill that imposes new restrictions on the distribution of all vaping equipment, parts, and supplies, including a ban on mailing them. The provision illustrates not only how utterly irrelevant legislation can be slipped into unread, must-pass bills but also how Congress redefines reality through legal fictions and uses save-the-children rhetoric to justify restricting adults’ choices.
Title VI of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which appears on page 5,136 of the 5,593-page bill, is called the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. The bill was introduced last April by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), joined by seven original cosponsors: six Democrats plus Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas). It includes two changes aimed at complicating and obstructing online sales of vapes and e-liquid.
Feinstein’s bill amends the Jenkins Act of 1949, which requires that vendors who sell cigarettes to customers in other states register with the tax administrators in those states and notify them of all such sales so they can collect the taxes that the buyers are officially obligated to pay. In 2002, the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) found that online cigarette sellers routinely flouted the Jenkins Act and that the federal government had done virtually nothing to enforce it. Nine years later, Congress amended the law, beefing up its reporting requirements and extending it to cover roll-your-own tobacco.
American cherry pie manufacturers may soon be able to decide for themselves how many cherries their frozen pies should have, free of burdensome federal regulations.
Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) head Scott Gottlieb tweeted out praise that his former staff have successfully arranged to deregulate the contents of cherry pies after—no kidding—two years of hard work (and he’s actually understating it, but I’ll get to that)…
So, is this now federal pie anarchy? No. (Unfortunately.) In 1971, the FDA established regulations imposing particular standards for frozen cherry pies. The lengthy regulations (read them here) determine not just how much of the pie must be made of cherries (25 percent by weight) and how many of the cherries may be “blemished,” or have scabs, or be of less than stellar quality (under 15 percent, even though pies are a great place to put blemished fruit to keep it from going to waste), but also establishes complicated rules for determining compliance.
While the FDA has been granted the power by Congress to regulate frozen foods and fruits, including pies, it’s very important to explain that these regulations were only implemented for cherry pies. There are no other similar regulations for other types of fruit pies. And there are no similar regulations for fresh pies to control the number and quality of the cherries in them. Just frozen pies, and only the cherry ones.
And so under Gottlieb and by request of the American Bakers Association (ABA), a trade association and lobbying organization, the FDA began rethinking this rule. The ABA argued that consumers, not the federal government, should decide whether they want to shell out more money for pies with more fruit in them or spend less money on lower-quality pies, if that’s what they can afford.