Senators say wine in groceries may not be dead this year
March 14, 2013 06:40 PM
Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
Just when locals thought efforts to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee grocery stores had died on the vine for this legislative session, Senate sponsor Bill Ketron offered hope for supporters.
"Some say why are you even meeting, if it's dead in the House. I don't know that it's dead in the house," Ketron said late Thursday morning at a specially appointed Tennessee Senate subcommittee looking into the legislation.
Ketron was thinking that House members who voted against the measure might ask to change their votes next week at the committee where the bill failed, which in turn might change the outcome.
"The companion bill in the other chamber may not be dead, it may be sleeping," Senator Doug Overbey told the subcommittee.
He even referenced a fairy tale to say what might be happening.
"Until Prince Charming comes along and wakes up Sleeping Beauty in the House," half-joked the Senator. "But we can precede here."
The wine in groceries bill that allows for local municipalities to vote on the issue failed in a House committee by one vote Tuesday.
All the major players supporting or fighting the issue were at the wine-in-groceries subcommittee Thursday.
That included members and lobbyists from the state's liquor businesses who clearly know that wine in groceries could still be resurrected.
They want to keep groceries from selling wine that is now only sold in liquor stores.
"We are scared to death," said Houston County Commissioner George Jeram, who made the two hour trip from Erin, TN to offer his opinion to the committee.
"This wine in grocery stores is going to cost a ton of money because we are going to increase our sheriff's budget because (people) are going to be buying this stuff everywhere," Jeram continued.
A Knoxville liquor store general manager has also been driving to most of these meetings and he testified Thursday about hoping for a compromise.
"At the end of the day we realize there is a very real possibility that this could pass and if it does, we want to make sure our interests are taken care of," Brent Barnett of MsScrooge's Wine and Spirits told Nashville's News 2.
He would like to see liquor stores sell things other than alcohol, such as cheese, have long hours like grocery stores and be able to ship and deliver.
It all adds up to the wine in groceries bill likely not being over this year until lawmakers actually adjourn in a few weeks.