Ketron’s new strategy: Strip amendments from wine-in-groceries bill

Sen. Bill Ketron, lead sponsor of the wine-in-grocery-stores bill in the Senate, tells TNReport that he plans to strip all amendments from the measure before seeking passage next session, leaving the basic bill to simply authorize local referendums on whether or not to permit wine sales in supermarkets.

As of mid-April, when the bill was last discussed before being shelved for the year, it’d picked up eight amendments through the Senate’s committee system.

Among the add-ons were stipulations on how the state will handle new tax revenues it collects through wine sales, descriptions of stores besides liquor retailers potentially eligible to sell wine, a loosening of regulations governing liquor-store ownership and an item-by-item listing of products in addition to booze that retail liquor outlets could in the future sell.

Ketron, the Senate’s Republican caucus chairman, told TNReport that stripping SB837 of amendment pulp will “get down to the nuts-and-bolts basics of that bill, which is to vote yes or no to allow people to have a referendum,” he said.

The “whole issue,” said Ketron, is the question of who decides. “It’s not about wine in grocery stores, but allowing the people to say they want to be able to vote.”

“If they want it, then they should be allowed to say that — for the same reason that retail stores are in place, through referendum in every community,” Ketron said. “And also, liquor-by-the-drink was by referendum. So that is how we got there on those two and this will be the third, wine in grocery stores.”

As to the extra items, some of which are conceived as trade-offs to help ease the transition for liquor stores, Ketron said he’ll advocate that lawmakers “decorate the Christmas tree on a second bill.”

Ketron said he’s pretty confident the “yes” votes are in place to pass a wine-in-groceries measure in both chambers of the Legislature, but the Senate is going to take the lead.

Sen. Bill Ketron, who is sponsor of the lead wine-in-grocery-stores bill in the Senate, is tells TNReport that he plans to strip all amendments from the measure before seeking passage next session, leaving the basic bill to simply authorize local referendums on whether or not to permit wine sales in supermarkets.

Note: See also Robert Houk’s weekly column, wherein the lead lobbyist for wine in grocery stores says Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, will continue to serve as House sponsor of the bill next year… and Houk offers some commentary.