(WBIR) A new year means a new legislative session and in the new year lawmakers expect to debate an old issue: wine in grocery stores.
Last year's bill to allow grocery stores to sell wine and liquor was shot down, but this year, a breeze of confidence is flowing through the state Capitol.
State Representative Gloria Johnson has seen a lot of supporters of grocery stores carrying wine, but she has her concerns.
"What I have been seeing from my constituents... I get a lot of emails on this issue, and all of those emails are they would like to have sales in grocery stores. But it's tricky because if it happens, I think we need to protect our small businesses. Mom and pop liquor stores that are here," says Johnson.
If a bill is passed, she said it's important that the grocery stores and liquor stores will have to play by the same rules.
That means regulations involving liquor sales would be in effect for grocery stores too.
State Senator Frank Niceley is pushing for this kind of bill. He said the current law forms a monopoly on liquor sales.
"With all of this meth and illegal drugs and cocaine around, why are you worrying about a bottle of wine with your spaghetti at night. It's not a big deal," said Niceley.
He said only select counties are allowed to distribute wine, leaving out many rural counties. This causes people to drive out of their own town and spend money in other communities.
"In East Tennessee if you want to buy a bottle of wine, you're subsidizing the schools of Knox County. So we need to bust that up. You want to buy a bottle of wine in one of these rural counties? Leave that tax money at home," said Niceley.
A debate that's now lasted several years and may see a resolution this time around.
"It's what the constituents want and what can we do to protect our small business owners," said Johnson.
Tennessee's legislative session begins on the second Tuesday of January.