Tennessee state senate passes supermarket wine bill Thursday

Tennessee state senate passes supermarket wine bill Thursday

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By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - The state Senate voted Thursday morning to allow local governments to hold referendums on selling wine in supermarkets and convenience stores by a margin of 23 to 8.

The measure was scheduled for a floor vote after the companion bill was revived in the House this week.

In the Senate version of the bill, each community must start a petition in order to have a ballot referendum. At least 10 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election must sign the petition in order for there to be a referendum.

Under Senate amendments, mandatory carding would be required for both package stores and retail food stores as part of a face-to-face transaction, meaning wine would not be able to be purchased at a self-checkout.

Retail food stores would not be able to sell wine on Sundays.

Package stores would be allowed to sell other items like mixers, glasses, certain foods, beer and cigarettes. Retail stores would not be able to sell high gravity beer.

Food stores that would be allowed to sell wine must have at least 20 percent of its taxable sales come from food purchases and stores must be at least 1,200 square feet in size. The House version of the bill requires stores to be at least 2,000 square feet.

Referendums could he held as early as November 2014, with food stores able to sell wine in July 2016. Package stores would be able to start selling other items in July 2014.

Retail food stores within 500 feet of a package store would not be able to start selling wine until July 1, 2017, unless the package store granted the food store permission. However, the package store would not be able to sell other items until the food store starts selling wine.

Food stores would also be required to mark up the price of its wine by at least 20 percent as a way of keeping them competitive with package stores.

Under current law, supermarkets can't sell anything stronger than beer with an alcohol content of up to 6.5 percent by volume.

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