Some TN lawmakers pushing grocery store wine sales - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Some TN lawmakers pushing grocery store wine sales

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Some lawmakers hope this is the year grocery stores win the right to sell wine in Tennessee.

The Senate votes Monday, the House on Tuesday. Chattanooga's Gerald McCormick, House Majority Leader, says the chances of passing are more favorable than ever before.

The owner of Mack's Hi-way Market in East Ridge relies on beer sales for most of his revenue. He says business could be a lot better with wine and liquor on the shelves.

"A lot of customers who want to buy this also want to buy liquor, they can get to shop in one place, so it will definitely improve business," owner Sreenu Pamibi said.

He signed a petition that dozens of local store owners sent to Nashville in support of the bill. He says it's hard being competitive when just across the Georgia border, you can buy wine, liquor and groceries in one spot. That's the case in 36 other states.

"When you're able to sell it a mile away from here, I don't see what's wrong with it," Pamibi said.

Liquor store owners and church groups have been the strongest opponents. Then last month, law enforcement agencies from across Tennessee spoke out against it, saying it could affect public safety.

"If somebody wants to drink it, they obviously get it. I mean they know where to get it," Pamibi said.

"It's not going to pass, but I think eventually it will and we'll be able to buy wine and liquor in grocery stores like the rest of the world," supporter Paul Smith said.

Hundreds of Channel 3's Facebook friends say they support it, but some say it's not fair to those local liquor stores who've relied on the current law to keep business going.

"Not about access to it but the livelihood of those who currently sell it," Melissa Ellis wrote.

"This is just wrong! We have to change our big business mentality," Nicholas Cardullo wrote.

The proposal states in exchange, liquor stores would then be able to sell items like beer, mixers, ice and snacks. It would also end current law that allows owners to operate only one liquor store in the state.

Supporters of the bill say they want local referendums to decide the issue. If it passes this week, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. We'll let you know how it plays out.

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