Sunday wine and liquor sales bill heads to governor

The Senate has approved a bill to allow wine and liquor to be sold on Sundays. The 17 votes the bill received were the bare minimum necessary to clear the chamber. Eleven senators voted against the bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).

The bill will go into effect upon signature by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who has said he will defer to the will of the legislature on the matter (UPDATE: He tells The Tennessean he will sign it). That means liquor stores will immediately be able to open their doors to the public on Sundays. Supermarkets will be able to follow suit starting on Jan. 1.

Other provisions of the bill include a mandatory markup of at least 10% (down from 20% in earlier versions) and easing rules for selling off inventory in the event a package store goes out of business. It will also place a cap on new liquor store licenses while giving owners the right to sell their permits if they choose to get out of the business.

The bill had passed Monday on a 55-35 vote in the House, just above the 50-vote threshold.

Statement from Distilled Spirits Council Vice President Dale Szyndrowski:

“The Tennessee legislature has voted in favor of consumers and small business owners. Tennesseans want a convenient and modern marketplace that allows alcohol sales seven days a week – just like in neighboring states. It is important that shoppers are able to buy from local businesses and invest their tax dollars in Tennessee, instead of making a trip across the border. Thank you to Rep. Gerald McCormick and Sen. Bill Ketron for sponsoring this legislation.”

Statement from Dale Walker, president of the Tennessee Pastors Network:

“The Bible Belt state of Tennessee had enjoyed a safe, sacred day of worship with liquor stores being closed on Sunday. This will now change radically. The Republican Super Majority in Tennessee has become the party of ‘Big Liquor,’ passing beer, wine and liquor sales in many new venues, including rural areas for the first time. Families and church vans will be even in more peril on the roadways now on Sunday.”

“The politicians who voted against this bill will have clean hands and a clear conscience,” Walker said. “The other politicians who voted for it will have the blood of the innocent on their hands with a trail of misery that always follows alcohol and wicked liquor. Many politicians are addicted to the power they have and will sell out Christian values for a check to their campaign coffers just to get re-elected.”

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