VOL. 124 | NO. 48 | Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Senate Begins Action on Reshaping Tenn. Wine Laws
By ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state Senate has begun taking action on a series of proposals to reshape the way wine is sold in Tennessee.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced a measure that would allow Tennesseans to buy up to five cases a day from out-of-state wineries, and to transport them back across state lines.
Current law bars bringing any alcohol into the state.
Sen. Doug Overbey, a Maryville Republican and the bill's main sponsor, said the law change would address legal concerns about Tennessee's "Grape and Wine Law."
A panel of federal judges on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last year found existing special rules for wineries in Tennessee to be unfair to competitors outside the state.
Overbey said his proposal "allows Tennessee residents that should go to an out of state winery to purchase it and bring it back into Tennessee just the same as if they were going to a Tennessee winery to purchase the product."
The out-of-state wineries would have to acquire a $450 Tennessee winery license to qualify for the provisions in Overbey's bill.
Sen. Ken Yager said the Legislature needs to act to avoid a federal judge imposing unwanted new regulations.
"They've given us an opportunity to fix this, and if we don't, then we're jeopardizing our wineries in Tennessee, which is a very significant part of our agricultural industry," said Yager, R-Harriman.
Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro and the panel's chairman, asked Overbey to defer consideration of the wineries bill until several other wine bills have an opportunity to be heard.
Ketron is sponsoring a measure to rescind a law that limits wine sales to liquor stores. Another proposal would allow for the direct shipment of wine to consumers.
All three measures are opposed by the state's influential liquor lobby.
The liquor and beer industry has accounted for more than $1.2 million in contributions to state candidates and causes since the 2000 election cycle, according to campaign finance data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
On the Net:
Read SB0944 at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.