Wine-in-Grocery Stores Bill Allows Locals to Opt In

Rep. Jon Lundberg previously sponsored wine-in-grocery stores legislation that was defeated. Image courtesy campaign website

Rep. Jon Lundberg previously sponsored wine-in-grocery stores legislation that was defeated. Image courtesy campaign website

This year’s push to have wine sold in Tennessee grocery stores formally begins Thursday. Two key lawmakers will host a press conference to detail plans allowing each county and city to vote on wine in grocery stores for themselves.

Wine in grocery stores has been a perennial issue. And again last year, the liquor stores successfully defended their turf and defeated the proposal.

This year’s legislation from Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Jon Lundberg of Bristol is a compromise of sorts, giving each jurisdiction the option through a ballot referendum as early as next year. Lundberg says it’s hard to argue with local control.

“I would have difficulty if I went back to my district and say I didn’t have confidence in you being able to vote the right way. I don’t know how you make that argument and actually come back up here.”

A poll taken by Vanderbilt University finds at least 60 percent of Tennesseans support wine in supermarkets.

Still, Lundberg’s bill will face stiff resistance from the state’s 600 liquor retailers. They’ve recently aligned with police chiefs and sheriffs who say making wine more widely available could result in additional alcohol-related incidents.

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