Kingsport Times News Monday, September 1, 2014

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Wine sales bill an opportunity for liquor distributors

March 8th, 2014 6:47 pm by Hank Hayes

Wine sales bill an opportunity for liquor distributors

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Words buried deep in Tennessee’s wine-in-grocery-stores legislation are on track to take down a barrier that has lasted for decades.

The closest wholesale liquor distributors supplying Northeast Tennessee’s package stores are in Knoxville, although a legislative effort has existed for years to allow Tri-Cities area business people to apply for a wholesale liquor license.

But those wholesale distributors, represented by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, successfully blocked the effort.

Former state Sen. Carl Moore, a Bristol Democrat who represented Sullivan County in the 1980s, knows all about it.

Moore sponsored legislation multiple times to expand the availability of wholesale liquor licenses in the Tri-Cities only to see his bills fail.

“I’d pass it in the Senate and the guys in the House would kill it,” Moore said of his legislation.

State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, sponsored similar legislation early in his political career and it also failed.

“I couldn’t get it through the first committee,” Lundberg said of his bill. “That was part of the liquor lobby monopoly. Those folks did not want to give that up. Every liquor wholesaler in Knoxville wanted Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City [package store operators] to call them.”

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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