Tourism groups are asking Governor Bill Haslam to veto a bill they say could have a major impact on any business that sells liquor by the drink.
HB 2027 sponsored by Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) has already passed both chambers of the legislature.
The Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association is fighting an amendment, not the entire bill. The bill allows wineries to sell and serve samples of wine off site among other things. But the last day of the session, Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville) added an amendment restaurants say directly impacts their cash flow.
Right now restaurants and bars have 10 days to pay their liquor bill to their wholesale distributor. The new law would tighten that window and force restaurants to pay at delivery.
"It's been in effect for 20 some odd years now. Why change it all of the sudden?" said Ken Maples, a representative of the Sevier County Hospitality Alliance and board member for Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association.
The Grill at Highlands Row managing partner, Chad Barger, said he thinks it will have a negative impact on his restaurant.
"You're essentially ordering on a par, trying to forecast what your sales are going to be. That gives you a little time to recover from the order and gain some income from the sales of those products," Barger said.
Barger says the change forces them to come up with thousands of dollars before any sales.
Haynes said the change puts liquor distributors on a level playing field with beer distributors who operate on a cash on demand basis.
"In current law, the government has been forcing one business to extend credit to another business. And we shouldn't do that. A business should have to pay their bills on time and pay in the manner that the provider wants them to," Haynes said.
Maples said the last minute moves by lawmakers took fairness out of the bill. The surprise amendment came on the last day of the session.
"No one knew anything about it. It impacts business we had no opportunity to weigh in on it, to discuss it," Maples said.
"As has been done in the 200 years of this state's history, amendments have always been brought up the last day. We always vote on bills on the last day. To say it was snuck in is quite frankly a lie and it's insulting," Haynes said.
Representative Haynes also added the amendment says business can pay their liquor bill with a credit card which gives them 30 days.
But at least one East Tennessee liquor distributor told 10News they do not accept credit cards.
Governor Haslam must sign the bill before it becomes law.