Local Votes Proposed on Selling Wine in Grocery Stores

Proponents of wine sales in grocery stores are revising their legislation for a new try during the 2012 legislative session, according to columnist Gail Kerr. The bill will call for allowing local votes on whether wine can be sold at Wal-Mart rather than authorizing such sales statewide..
Just as people in municipalities vote on whether to allow liquor to be sold by the drink, folks with the Red, White and Food campaign will push lawmakers to allow local referendums on wine sales in food stores.
“That’s generally how alcohol laws are handled,” said Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association.
The organization for several years has pushed to change the state law. Despite the popularity of the change — a Middle Tennessee State University spring poll showed 69 percent of Tennesseans statewide supported wine in grocery stores — powerful liquor lobbyists have blocked all efforts to change state law.
…The idea of pushing lawmakers to allow local votes came up at the end of last year’s session, when the bill died in a subcommittee. An amendment was proposed to allow wine in grocery stores only if passed by local referendums. The amendment fell shy by one vote. If they are successful in the coming legislative session, Springer says it could be on the ballot by the fall.
“If the people don’t want to buy wine in a food store, they don’t have to vote in favor of it,” he said. “The state legislature is not voting for it or against it.”

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