Tennessee lawmakers to decide fate of supermarket wine

Tennessee lawmakers to decide fate of supermarket wine

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"It will be a close vote. It wouldn't surprise me if all it was a 5-4 vote, that close," said State Sen. Ken Yager. "It will be a close vote. It wouldn't surprise me if all it was a 5-4 vote, that close," said State Sen. Ken Yager.
"I remember hearing about it way back when, and it seems to keep getting pushed back and back," said Knoxville resident Willie Buchanan. "I remember hearing about it way back when, and it seems to keep getting pushed back and back," said Knoxville resident Willie Buchanan.

KNOXVILLE (AP/WATE) -  Tennessee lawmakers are poised to decide this week whether a proposal to allow supermarket wine sales moves ahead or withers on the vine.

The bill to overhaul the current system faces votes in both the House and Senate over the next few days. 

The Senate's state and local government committee will have hearings tomorrow from both sides of the issue. A vote is expected on Tuesday.

A single vote could ultimately decide the fate of the bill.  

"It will be a close vote. It wouldn't surprise me if all it was a 5-4 vote, that close," said State Sen. Ken Yager.  

The nine members of the State and Local Government Committee, chaired by State Sen. Yager, will hear both sides of the bill Monday afternoon.

The current bill allows cities and counties to hold referendums to allow wine in grocery stores. 

The vote is expected on Tuesday, but Sen. Yager already says he's a no vote. 

"The reason why I'm not supporting the bill is the effect of the small business in my district. It could have an adverse effect on some of the stores in my counties,"  Yager said.  

Current law prevents grocery and convenience stores from selling any alcoholic drinks stronger than beer, while package stores can't sell anything except for liquor.  

Various local polls have shown a majority support wine sales in grocery stores.

"It makes things easier. Who wants to make an extra trip to get a bottle of wine? We're not talking about hard liquor, it's just wine," said Knoxville resident Travis Ledoneul.

One grocery store representative believes it will pass this time around.  

"I feel strongly that this is the year that the support is there," said John Jones, executive vice-president of the Knoxville division of Food City.

For seven years in a row, a wine in grocery store bill never got enough support to pass through a senate or house committee.

"I remember hearing about it way back when, and it seems to keep getting pushed back and back," said Knoxville resident Willie Buchanan.

"I think it's frankly kind of absurd it's taking this long to come up," said Ledoneul.  

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who is in favor of the bill, said he's more confident that the Senate panel will advance the measure than he is for the house local government committee doing the same.  

The House State and Local Government Committee will hold that hearing on Tuesday at noon.  

A vote will be scheduled at a later date.

6 News Reporter Mike Krafcik contributed to this report. Portions are Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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