Sunday wine and liquor sales makes progress, bill gets approval

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A bill is moving ahead that would allow wine and liquor sales on Sundays in Tennessee.

In a voice vote, legislation known as HB 1540 was approved to move ahead in the House State Government Subcommittee on Tuesday.

The bill would allow liquor stores and retailers to sell wine during the same hours beer is sold. In the proposed legislation, retailers could sell wine between 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Monday. 

The rewritten law would also give stores the option of selling wine and liquor on holidays.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he originally introduced the legislation in order to give retailers the choice on when they sold. He also said he hoped it would increase the convenance for all Tennesseans. 

The current law does not allow retailers to sell alcoholic beverages between 11:00 p.m. on Saturday and 8:00 a.m. on Monday of each week.

This legislation would allow liquor stores to begin selling wine as early as July 1, 2018. Grocery stores would follow as early as January 1, 2019. 

"I've always thought we probably wouldn't be that busy on Sundays, except maybe during football season, but we'll just have to wait and see," said Jeff Seeman, owner of Frontier Liquor on Kingston Pike. 

Seeman says he isn't too worried about making schedule changes just yet, knowing there's time between this step in legislation and the bill becoming a law. 

"You only have to look at Chick-fil-A. They're closed on Sunday. Their competition is open on Sunday. It seems like they're doing just fine. So, right now I have no plans to open on Sunday but we'll just have to see how it goes," said Seeman. 

Moving forward, the bill has been referred to the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. 

Rep. McCormick said, during discussion, that he was approached by constituents frustrated with the law as it stands currently. Shoppers in a Toddy's Liquor Store in Knoxville seemed to agree. 

"It's conveniently a Sunday when I want it and I'm like, 'I can't go to the store and get it now," said Tashira Torres. 

Rob Ikard, president and CEO of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, says Tuesday's vote is a step in the right direction. 

Ikard says the TGCSA has been spearheading this legislation since the beginning, knowing Tuesday's vote would be an obstacle, so to pass and move forward, he says, is a win for consumers who more frequently shop on Sundays. 

In the State Senate, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro is a sponsor of SB 0923, legislation that supports the house bill. This legislation has yet to be taken up in the Senate. 

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