Wine sales plan on the move
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 9:20 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — The top two Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly support allowing the sale of wine in supermarkets, and the influx of new GOP lawmakers is giving them the opportunity to reshape key committees where efforts to make that change have long been corked up by opponents.
Under the state’s restrictive three-tiered beverage control system, every drop of alcohol is supposed to flow from the manufacturer to a wholesale distributor and then to the retailers. And any bottle stronger than beer can only be bought at one of 501 liquor stores around the state.
The latest proposed overhaul would give counties that currently allow liquor sales to hold a referendum on whether to remove liquor stores’ exclusive right to sell wine.
“It’s one of those issues we’ve battled forever,” Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told The Associated Press.
“And I think the opponents have held it off for about as long as they can hold it off,” he said.
Fellow Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville agreed.
“This has been coming for a long time,” she said. “It’s certain that the public would like to see that, and hopefully we can work out something that is a win-win for everybody.”
Republicans added to their already substantial advantages in both the Senate and House this year, gaining supermajorities in both chambers.
Both Ramsey and Harwell are working on new committee assignments, including in the state and local government panels that have torpedoed the measure in the past.