Tennessee House Passes Supermarket Wine Sales Bill

Tennessee House Passes Supermarket Wine Sales Bill

CREATED Feb 20, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The House has passed a bill to allow Tennessee supermarkets to sell wine.

The chamber voted 71-15 on Thursday to approve the years-long effort to allow cities and counties that currently allow package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine to be sold outside of liquor stores.

"We are just so appreciative that the legislators have listened to Tennesseans. We know this is what the majority of Tennesseans say they want," said Melissa Eads who represents Kroger.

A similar version has passed the Senate. Republican Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol said the Senate is expected to go along with minor changes in the House bill and send the measure for the governor's signature. That vote is expected to take place March 3rd.

Wine in grocery stores has been argued on Capitol Hill for more than 7 years.

"This is a historic day-- a very historic day in Tennessee history.  This is probably the most dramatic change to the alcohol bills or alcohol laws that we currently have since Prohibition," said Republican Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

Later this year in cities and counties where there are liquor stores or liquor is sold by the drink there can be referendums.

If approved wine could be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores beginning in July 2016. Liquor stores can begin selling other items like food and cork screws this July.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam was not a supporter of allowing wine sales in supermarkets or convenience stores when he was running for office in 2010. But Haslam has said he will defer to the Legislature on the issue.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)