Legislation was filed yesterday that would allow Tennesseans to vote on whether to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine. The bill was introduced to end the exclusive right of liquor stores to sell wine in Tennessee. Grocery store sales would be limited to wine with an alcohol content of no more than 18 percent. The measure would put the option of whether to allow wider wine sales to voters in local cities and counties. The bill, if passed, would give municipalities in those communities that currently allow retail package stores, liquor-by-the-drink establishments or both to hold a referendum on the sale of wine in retail food stores during the next general election. The authorization law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014 and would allow a referendum to be held after that date. A petition with 10 percent of the county’s registered voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election would have to be submitted to the county election commission where the referendum is to be held. Thirty-six states, including six of Tennessee’s border states, allow the sale of wine in retail food stores. Kentucky will soon join the list due to a recent federal court ruling, which deemed its liquor laws unconstitutional.
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