A bill allowing wine to be sold outside Tennessee liquor stores is headed to Governor Bill Haslam's desk where he is expected to sign the measure.
The Senate late Monday approved minor changes made by the House when the lower chamber passed its version of the bill 71-15 last month.
The proposal would grant authority to cities and counties that have package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores.
It also allows local votes to take place as early as this fall but would not allow supermarket wine sales until July 2016 at the earliest.
Under current law, supermarkets and convenience stores can sell beer containing up to 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anything stronger can be sold only in package stores, which can't sell anything beyond booze and lottery tickets.
Beginning in July, no matter what happens in the local votes, liquor stores will have a lengthy set of new rules expanding on what they can sell and where they can locate.
In a statement after the vote, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said, “After years of hard work, I'm proud to see this issue finally settled in the legislature. This bill is a solid compromise that allows for the expansion of consumer choice while protecting small businesses that took risks and invested capital under the old system. This bill puts the issue where it belongs: in the hands of the people of Tennessee.”
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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- Jan. 22, 2014: Deal excludes big box stores from selling wine
- Jan. 20, 2014: Grocery wine bill negotiations near breakthrough
- Jan. 14, 2014: Wine bill to be revived this legislative session
- Sept. 27, 2013: Tenn. wine in supermarkets debate takes new turn
- Sept. 26, 2013: Failed supermarket wine bill could be revived in house
- Aug. 6, 2013: Kroger kicks off 'Wish Wine Were Here' postcard campaign
- April 3, 2013: Wine bill to get 2nd chance in Senate committee
- April 2, 2013: Wine bills stalls in Senate finance committee
- March 26, 2013: Senate adds Sunday sales to supermarket wine bill
- March, 25, 2013: Debate over wine in grocery stores continues
- March 14, 2013: Senators say wine in groceries may not be dead this year
- March 12, 2013: Tenn. lawmakers reject wine in grocery stores bill
- March 6, 2013: Harwell vote rescues grocery store wine bill
- Feb. 26, 2013: Supermarket wine bill clears panel by single vote
- Feb. 25, 2013: Debate over wine in grocery stores continues
- Feb. 25, 2013: New proposal could allow wine in grocery stores to be reality
- Jan. 31, 2013: Legislation would let public vote on wine in grocery stores
- Dec. 3, 2012: 2 top lawmakers support public vote for wine in grocery stores
- Dec. 2, 2012: Prospects brighten for wine in Tenn. groceries
- Oct. 12, 2012: Kroger begins focused push for win in grocery stores
- March 3, 2011: Association hopeful wine will be sold in Tenn. grocery stores
- Feb. 11, 2011: Local winery owners want wine sold in grocery stores
- Feb. 2, 2011: Supporters say wine in grocery stores would create jobs
- Oct. 28, 2009: Metro prepared for wine in grocery stores
- Oct. 28, 2009: Wine in grocery store debate returns to Capitol Hill
- March 24, 2009: Wine sales uncorks spirited debate, again
- Feb. 19, 2009: Budget shortfall could help bring wine to supermarkets
- Jan. 12, 2009: Lawmakers to discuss grocery store wine sales
- Nov. 17, 2008: Push continues to allow grocers to sell wine
- March 25, 2008: Wine won't be available in grocery stores anytime soon