NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennesseans looking to buy their wine at their local supermarket may have to wait a little longer for the shelves to be stocked because of a disagreement on whether liquor stores should be protected from competition.
The House Finance Committee voted 10-9 on Tuesday evening to remove a provision that would have limited liquor retailers from owning more than two package stores.
Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville in retaliation withdrew his bill to allow grocery stores to begin taking deliveries in advance of the new law allowing wine sales going into effect on July 1.
Todd told the committee that he had been involved in closed-door negotiations involving several unnamed parties before the legislative session, and had promised to withdraw the bill if any changes were made.
The state liquor store association was a major opponent of the 2014 move to allow grocery stores to begin stocking wine this summer. And as a part of an unrelated move to allow stores to being taking wine deliveries before July 1, the liquor stores are looking to head off competition from large retailers by seeking a two-store ownership limit.
Haslam told reporters Tuesday that his “gut feeling is to leave the cap off.”
Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell said it “wouldn’t be a top priority” to help liquor store owners who long fought supermarket wine.