- Supermarkets and convenience stores will be allowed to sell wine in Tennessee, thanks to a new law signed by Governor Bill Haslam.
- The legislation grants authority to cities and counties that have package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets.
- However, actual supermarket sales will not happen until the summer of 2016 or even 2017, for stores located near an existing liquor store.
The quest for supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine was proposed in a bill filed over a year ago, as reported here. While the concept of supermarket wine sales has broad public support according to various polls, the measure failed in several consecutive legislative sessions. The push for the change came up again last August. The delay until 2016 is intended to give liquor stores time to prepare for the competition, but Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey indicated that lawmakers may consider moving the date up.
As for the governor's position, back in 2010 he was somewhat hesitant about the legislation, which would directly affect the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain owned by his family. He did not take a stand for or against the law while it was under discussion, but he said he "would do whatever the will of the Legislature;" his reason for signing this past Thursday.