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Bills expanding liquor, wine sales fail in committee

March 14th, 2007 12:24 am by Hank Hayes



Proposed bills to allow retailers to sell bottled liquor on Sundays and holidays, and letting certain retailers sell wine, failed in the Tennessee Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.


Interim state Sen. Shea Flinn, D-Memphis, called the bills "an attempt to bring logic back to the liquor laws of this state."


Flinn indicated his bills were not about the liquor that rips apart families nor liquor used in toasting friends and family.


"They are about bringing more free market into Tennessee and making our laws consistent with common sense," he said of the bills. "We can sell wine by the drink (on Sunday). We can sell liquor by the drink (on Sunday). We can sell beer (on Sunday) after a prescribed time period, yet we cannot sell this (bottled liquor). There is simply no rational reason for this."


One of his bills would have allowed retailers to sell bottled liquor on Sundays from noon to 11 p.m. and on New Year's Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July.


The other bill called for convenience stores and grocery stores to be allowed to sell wine.


Tennessee's fiscal review division said the state would need 20 new Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents to assist in regulating and investigating new licenses for the retail wine sellers.


But the division estimated wine sales would bring in more than $12 million in one-time and recurring tax revenues. About 6,000 food stores would apply for the licenses, the division indicated.


Neither of Flinn's bills came to a vote. One died for lack of a seconding motion, while the other couldn't even get a motion.


Flinn didn't sound offended by the committee's decision.


"I'd like to buy this entire committee a drink sometime, preferably on Sunday at a Kroger's," he said.


For more information, go to www.legislature.state.tn.us and click on "Legislation." The bills' numbers are SB 0634 and SB 2072.


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