Wine in Tennessee Groceries DOA - Again

Wine in Tennessee Groceries DOA - Again

Reliable sources tell us that wine in grocery stores is dead on arrival, once again. For insiders, this is not surprising, particularly in an election year. Although wine is mainstream in urban and suburban districts, many legislators representing more rural districts tend to vote against alcohol, as a matter of policy. Legislators in socially conservative districts fear opponents will use any pro-alcohol votes against them.
Wine advocates launched a new tactic this year. Instead of trying to pass a statewide law legalizing wine in groceries, the idea was to allow the voters in each city or county to make the decision to allow wine in groceries, based on a general election in each city or county.

This is the way that state law enables Tennessee cities and counties to decide whether liquor can be sold at package stores and restaurants. The practice is called local option, and most agree that it has been a good way to allow local residents to decide the often contentious decision of allowing local alcohol sales.

Forces opposed to wine in groceries know that wine in groceries is overwhelmingly popular in places like Nashville and Franklin. Allowing local option for wine in groceries means that key cities will adopt wine in groceries. Although the idea may have merit, it lacked traction in the legislature. Tennessee House Republican Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol proposed the legislation, but no companion bill was filed in the state Senate. The deadline to do so has passed, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. This means the bill cannot be passed this year.

Tennessee liquor store owners also effectively advocated that putting hundreds of locally owned businesses at risk of closing based on competition from huge out of state companies like Wal-Mart and Kroger was particularly unfair in the recession. State liquor laws currently require that all liquor stores be owned by Tennessee residents. We hear from reliable sources that wine in groceries is dead for 2012.

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