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No grocery wine sales until 2016 under new compromise unveiled today

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The compromise wine-in-grocery-stores bill up for committee review in the state House of Representatives Tuesday would not allow wine sales in grocery stores until July 1, 2016 — and those within 500 feet of a liquor store a year later unless the liquor retailer agrees.

The compromise unveiled Tuesday morning in the House State Government Committee also requires a minimum 20 percent markup from the wholesale price of wine — an attempt to prevent grocers from undercutting liquor stores on price.

The compromise proposal allows "big box" retailers like Walmart and Target and larger convenience stores to sell wine. In order to qualify for wine sales, a "retail food store" must derive at least 20 percent of its sales from food items that are taxed at the state's discounted 5 percent food tax rate and have retail floor space of at least 2,000 square feet, which would exclude smaller convenience stores.

Grocery wine sales would be permitted only in towns, cities and counties whose residents approve it in referendums. The referendums could be held, starting with this November's general election, only in towns, cities and counties with retail liquor stores or liquor by the drink.

Read more on this story from our partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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