alcohol

With Haslam signature, legal Sunday booze sales can begin this weekend

Gov. Bill  Haslam today signed into law legislation that authorizes Sunday sales of liquor and wine, according to his communications department. The bill (HB1540) says that, insofar as liquor stores go, it takes effect “upon becoming law” – meaning when governor signs it.

Thus, Tennessee liquor stores could legally be open on this Sunday if the operators wish – or have time to prepare. But the bill also declares the effective date for grocery stores and supermarkets that sell wine only is Jan. 1, 2019. The first Sunday after that date is Jan. 6, 2019.

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House approves Sunday sales of liquor and wine, 55-35

Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattnooga), center, speaks with Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan), right, after a House vote on Sunday wine sales. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The House voted 55-35 Monday evening to authorize sale of bottled liquor and wine on Sundays, sending the bill to the Senate where a vote is scheduled Wednesday.

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Campus booze bill fails on House floor

A bill authorizing sale of alcoholic beverages for the first time on a Tennessee university campus during sports events failed on the House floor after critics declared it would set a bad precedent in a state where there’s already ample alcohol available through efforts of the liquor lobby.

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AG contradicts Jack Daniels’ bill — says whiskey barrels can be taxed

A legal opinion from the state attorney general’s office says the barrels used to age whiskey in Tennessee distilleries are subject to property taxes paid by businesses, despite a contention to the contrary in a bill pending before the General Assembly.

Producers of Jack Daniels whiskey have been pushing the bill (SB2076) since officials in Moore County laid plans to begin applying the tax to aging barrels, something not done in the past. The fiscal note prepared by legislative staff estimates that would mean about $2.8 million in new revenue for Tennessee’s smallest county.

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Lobbyists, legislators cut a deal on Sunday booze sales; House sub approves

Liquor stores would get to start selling their products on Sundays six months ahead of wine sales at other stores under legislation approved by the House State Government Subcommittee Thursday, reports the Times Free Press. That’s part of a deal on changes to state liquor laws that’s also intended to help liquor stores boost their profits otherwise.

The profits provision declares that liquor must be sold to retail customers at a price at least 20 percent higher than the wholesale cost to the store owner. State law already mandates a 20 percent markup on wine sales.

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TDEC partners with brewery producing ‘State Park Blonde Ale’

News release from Craftbeer.com, a publication of the Brewers Association

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 19, 2017) – Tennessee Brew Works has partnered with the Tennessee State Parks by creating a new Tennessee State Parks Beer, “State Park Blonde Ale,” with a portion of sales benefiting the mission of Tennessee State Parks.

The Tennessee State Parks and Tennessee Brew Works teams met almost two years ago. Sharing ideas over a common bond of craft beer with aims to better our land and community, they quickly became friends. Since then, they have been actively discussing projects and possible ways for the two organizations to optimize their synergies.

“Together we have found a way to make delicious Tennessee Brew Works craft beer and support Tennessee State Parks with our State Park Blonde Ale. We proudly support the mission of Tennessee State Parks as they preserve and protect our natural resources,” said Christian Spears, founder and owner, Tennessee Brew Works.

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Legislature OKs two 23-hour bars; bill authorizing Sunday booze sales dies quietly

The House has given final approval to legislation that would let two Nashville bars serve drinks 23 hours per day, an exception to general state law that prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages between the hours of 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.

In contrast, a more ambitious change in state liquor laws – legalizing sale of wine and spirts on Sundays statewide – has died quietly in House and Senate committees.

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‘Open container’ bill dies despite Haslam’s support

Legislation prohibiting open containers of an alcoholic beverage in moving vehicles is dead again this year even though Gov. Bill Haslam made it part of his official legislative package for 2017.

Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, who has pushed the idea for years, had hoped Haslam’s backing would make a difference, reports WJHL-TV, and is disappointed by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (sponsoring SB1219 for the administration) pulled the bill without a vote.

Norris said there’s not enough support among legislators for passage and debating the matter would be “a distraction” from the push for passage of the governor’s priority bill of the year — a package of tax legislation including increases in gas and diesel fuel taxes.

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Haslam appoints new ABC commissioner; Harwell and McNally may do same soon

West Tennessee pharmacist Richard Skiles has been appointed by Gov. Billl Haslam to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, filling  vacancy left on the board by the resignation in January of Mary McDaniel of Memphis.

While Skiles is the newest member of the panel, he probably won’t have that status for long, as observed by Nashville Post Politics. A bill already passed by the Senate (SB556) was approved by the House State Government Committee on Wednesday. It adds two new members to the ABC – one appointed by the House speaker, the other by the Senate speaker – to join the three now appointed by the governor.

Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but was killed in the State Government sub about the same time the ABC’s executive director abruptly quit the post – moves that Senate Republican Leader  Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro says were related.

The House sponsor this year is Republican Rep. Bill Sanderson who shares Kenton as a home town with new Commissioner Skiles and is also chairman of the full State Government Committee.

Note: For a lengthy review of the pending bill and some of the ABC politics involved, see a News Sentinel report HERE. An excerpt:

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Mark Lovell’s night on the legislative reception circuit

The Tennessean has a lengthy review of Mark Lovell’s activities leading up to his resignation from the legislature amind allegations that he sexually harassed at least one woman on the night of Feb. 7. The “fondling” episode came after Lovell made the rounds on the legislative reception circuit and, by several accounts, became intoxicated. An excerpt:

On the night in question, there were at least five formal receptions. Lovell, who has longer, more coiffed hair than most lawmakers and sports a salt and pepper goatee, attended them all. The first event began before the end of the business day.

Lawmakers were invited to The Standard. It costs thousands of dollars a year to join the private club, established in 1843, and although there is a public restaurant at The Standard, a keycode is required to get into the more exclusive rooms.The soiree started at 4:30 p.m. with drinks and food paid for by AT&T and Delta Dental.

…The Tennessee Malt Beverage Association hosted lawmakers at their 14th annual “Brew Ha-Ha.” The invitation for the event, at the German-themed Gerst House near Nissan Stadium, shows a clipart image of a buxom woman holding a beer-laden tray as two figures toast in the background.

…While the food at these events tends to be mediocre, receptions at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant stand out. The Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association spent more than $17,000 at the downtown restaurant that evening, offering heavy hors d’oeuvres like barbecue and cheese plates as live music filled the air at the southern-style eatery. The bacon-wrapped asparagus was particularly delicious.

Anyone attending a different reception hosted by the Tennessee Disability Coalition had the opportunity to meet with people served by organizations including AARP Tennessee, Disability Rights Tennessee and the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind. It was at one of the swankier hotels in town, The Sheraton.

…The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents sponsored an event at the Hermitage Hotel. It’s a posh, century-old building with terracotta tiles, Tennessee marble and a painted glass skylight in the lobby that’s hosted countless lawmakers and dignitaries over the years, including serving as a headquarters for John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. The hotel is across the street from Legislative Plaza.

Only the Gerst House is outside walking distance from the statehouse.

Lovell said he only had three cocktails between 4 and 9 p.m. at the receptions and afterward. “I’m less than a social drinker,” he said on the day he resigned. Others say Lovell, who is partial to Crown Royal and Coca-Cola, had many more. By 8 p.m., they say he was visibly drunk.

What happens next is disputed. The 5-foot 8-inch West Tennessean said he didn’t recall doing anything wrong at any events he attended that evening. He called the accusations of sexual impropriety “100 percent false.”

All other sources say after the legislative events that evening, the then-lawmaker grabbed a woman inappropriately while at a local establishment. He is accused of grabbing one woman’s breasts and buttocks, in addition to trying to prevent her from walking away. Several sources say he engaged in additional inappropriate touching with another woman.