Governor signs wine in grocery stores bill - WKRN News 2

Governor signs wine in grocery stores bill

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Before more than 100 lawmakers, lobbyists and even a few spectators, Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill Thursday that allows wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores and makes major changes for the state's liquor stores.

It was a light mood for a bill that took seven years of debate to pass, primarily because of heavy opposition from the state's liquor businesses who feared they would lose jobs.

One of the House sponsors Rep. Ryan Haynes even joked that it was "an infamous bill."

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said he always saw the measure as a "commerce bill" because it would keep tax dollars in Tennessee.

He joked that people in his border district in northeast Tennessee "have always had wine in grocery stores, they just go across the border in Virginia to buy it."

At the heart of the bill is a provision that allows voters in individual cities and counties across Tennessee to decide by referendum whether to allow wine in grocery stores.

To do so, a certain amount of voters need to sign a petition to have the referendum.

In Davidson County, it's believed to be somewhere around 15,000 signatures.

The votes could happen this fall, but the earliest wine could be sold would be 2016.

Other parts of the bill affecting liquor stores go into effect in July of this year.

They allow liquor stores to sell beer and items like corkscrews, glasses and even some cheeses.

Liquor stores would also be allowed to have multiple locations under the same name which they can't have under current state law.

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