TN speaker: Wine in grocery stores may pass this year

A bill sent to the Senate floor last spring would let supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retailers with beer licenses place wine on their shelves, provided voters agree through local referendums. The bill got tied up in a House committee during the 2013 legislative session by a single vote.

Harwell, who favors the idea, said she thinks the logjam will be broken in 2014.

"I believe there is support from the general public, so I see movement, and I think all parties involved have been sitting down and talking to each other during the recess," she said.

She predicted a deal will be worked out on the existing bill and said companion legislation likely will be introduced to "lay down which regulations will be lifted from the liquor industry." Those could cover hours of operation, make allowances for liquor stores to sell food or cigarettes and even let them open on Sundays, though Harwell said she wouldn't favor that last idea.

The question of whether grocery stores could sell wine on Sundays also would have to be addressed, she said. They already can sell beer on Sundays.

"I can't predict what the General Assembly will do on that issue," Harwell said.


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