The Senate Finance Committee has approved, 7-4, legislation that would authorize sale of wine in grocery stores.
The bill (SB837) was approved in a Wednesday evening meeting of the panel, which has been debating it for some time. On April 2, it failed on a 5-5-1 tie vote in the committee.
Those changing their position Wednesday from the first vote were Sen. Doug Henry, D-Nashville, who voted yes instead of no, and Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, who abstained the first time and voted yes on Wednesday.
The House companion bill failed earlier in committee, so the bill is dead for the year. Approval by the Senate committee, however, means that it will be poised for a vote on the Senate floor when legislators return for the 2014 session.
“We’ll wait and see what the House does in January,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, in a brief Senate floor speech.
Note: A statement from proponents of the bill is below.
Here’s a statement sent to media today by Jarron Springer, who as president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association has been a leading advocate for the bill.
“We are glad to see the wine in retail food stores referendum bill regain its momentum in the Senate. The Finance, Ways and Means Committee’s passing the legislation today puts us another step closer to Tennesseans’ having the right to vote on where they buy wine in their communities.
“The adopted amendments on the bill will help create a level playing field for all parties, and we look forward to this bill’s being heard by the full Senate in next year’s legislative session.
“Again, I want to express my appreciation to Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Speaker Harwell, and our bill sponsors Sen. Ketron and Rep. Lundberg for their support and commitment to making this a comprehensive piece of legislation.
“We’re hearing from our customers that they’re still very excited by the possibility of voting on wine in retail food stores for their communities, and we believe this public support will lead to the bill’s eventual passage by the full Tennessee General Assembly.”