Reposted from The Commercial Appeal:
Tennessee House subcommittee kills bill for wine sales in grocery stores
NASHVILLE — A legislative committee Wednesday killed the bill to allow wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores, marking the fifth consecutive year for its defeat.
The House State and Local Government Subcommittee deferred the bill to July 4, 2012. It was a parliamentary move that effectively kills the issue until at least next January, when a new bill can be introduced, legislative leaders said.
The defeat came despite a last-ditch compromise effort by supporters of the bill that would have allowed wine in grocery stores if approved in local referendums.
The subcommittee killed that amendment, then immediately deferred the bill.
Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, was one of two subcommittee members who argued against the bill. He argued with the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, over whether wine in groceries would create jobs as supporters claim.
“I don’t think it’s going to bring jobs and money. I disagree with you on that issue because what you’re doing is just a swap-out,” Todd said. “Folks in the grocery business are not going to hire new people. Folks who are now going to the store to buy a bottle of wine are going to get the same bottle at the grocery store. It’s swapping out.”
Todd also told Lundberg that grocers have told him wine will be a “loss leader to get folks into the grocery store. So don’t give me that, ’cause you didn’t talk to them, apparently.”
Liquor retailers who packed the room wearing blue “NO to Wine in Grocery Stores” stickers cheered.
“Candidly, if I had a state-mandated monopoly business, I’d be here and applauding too,” Lundberg said.
Lundberg presented the compromise amendment requiring local referendums, but Rep. Kent Williams, I-Elizabethton, moved to table it.
“If you defeat this amendment, what you’re saying is, ‘No, I do not want the people in my district to have the opportunity to vote,’” Lundberg said.
The subcommittee tabled the amendment 5-3, then deferred the bill on an unrecorded group voice vote.
Thirty-three states allow grocery stores to sell wine, but heavy opposition by Tennessee’s liquor wholesalers and retailers has blocked the legislation here. Independent surveys show Tennesseans heavily favor wine in groceries. The latest statewide survey by Middle Tennessee State University last month indicated 69 percent favor the bill.
Afterward, Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association, said his group will try again next year and that it will take a harder effort by consumers who want wine in groceries for it to pass.
“People who favor this need to talk to those members on the subcommittee… They also need to talk to their personal legislators back home.”
Contact Nashville Bureau chief Richard Locker at (615) 255-4923.
I would like to acknowledge that this is a very important victory for us, your neighborhood wine store. We are an independent business and would be crushed if this bill is allowed to pass. The loss of jobs and tax revenue would be staggering at a time when Tennessee has an unemployment rate that surpasses the national average, and has no state income tax to supplement the incoming revenue. There is a reason that no states have passed this law since 1986. There is no reasonable positive outcome.
YOU, our customers, are very important to us and to our future. Thank you for your continued support on this measure.
There’s a movement underway to put wine in grocery stores. Supporters make it sound simple – just a matter of convenience. But in fact, the legislation seriously threatens the future of our locally-owned store and the jobs of the people who work here. Profits would go instead to out-of-state grocery chains and big box stores that are funding the massive public relations campaign to pass the legislation.
If you think Tennessee should put local jobs and small business first, please follow this link and sign the petition. http://saveourstore.biz/
Some things are more important than convenience.
Thank you for your continued support of Poplar Wine & Spirits.