Tennessee House passes wine in supermarkets bill

Tennessee House passes wine in supermarkets bill

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The Tennessee House of Representatives voted Thursday 71 to 15 to allow cities and counties to hold a referendum to allow grocery stores to sell wine. The Tennessee House of Representatives voted Thursday 71 to 15 to allow cities and counties to hold a referendum to allow grocery stores to sell wine.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol). The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol).
Lawmakers began discussing the bill around 11 a.m. Thursday, first taking up a number of proposed amendments, none of which passed. The bill passed shortly after noon. Lawmakers began discussing the bill around 11 a.m. Thursday, first taking up a number of proposed amendments, none of which passed. The bill passed shortly after noon.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee House of Representatives voted Thursday 71 to 15 to allow cities and counties to hold a referendum to allow grocery stores to sell wine. The bill also creates a permit to sell wine at grocery stores.

"My expectation was yesterday obviously I'd be happy with 51, but at 71 the support was enormous," the bill's sponsor, Rep. R-Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said. 

Lawmakers began discussing the bill around 11 a.m. Thursday, first taking up a number of proposed amendments, none of which passed. The bill passed shortly after noon.

Several lawmakers opposing the bill voiced their objections before the vote.

"This is crony capitalism and what this is, it's legislation fueled by special interest," Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) said. 

"Some of the individuals saying that wouldn't vote for the alcohol bills anyway," Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) said. "They'd take us back to prohibition if they could." 

Under the bill, a grocery store would not be allowed to sell wine between the hours of 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. and noon on Sundays.

"This is a compromise that was worked out by all individuals involved," Haynes said. "It's nice to see that we don't run quite like Washington and we can sit down at the table together and compromise to get a bill passed." 

A referendum must be preceded by a petition signed by 10 percent of those in that particular municipality who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

A store must derive 20 percent of its sales from food and be at least 1,200 square feet in size.

In addition, package stores would be allowed to begin selling beer and other items related to special events or parties among other provisions.

The first licenses could be issued to grocery stores as soon as July 1, 2016 under the House version of the bill.

The Tennessee State Senate passed their own version of the bill on January 30.

Local liquor store owners told 6 News they worry the bill will hurt local business.

"Our estimate we would lose 30 percent of our wine sales and in a market like Farragut there's somewhere between $8-$9 million in wine sales in Farragut and there's only $4 million in beer sales so you can't make up the loss of wine sales with beer," Farragut Wine & Spirits owner David Purvis said.

Dueto additional amendments on the House version of the legislation, the wine inretail food stores bill will be sent back to the Senate for concurrence. Thebill would then be sent to the governor to sign it into law.


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