There has been a great deal of talk about the Wine in Groceries Store Bill, HB 0610, floating around Tennessee’s Capitol Hill. We are going to give you some perspective from local companies big and small and then we want to hear what you think in the comments. This bill in summary is asking for a referendum on the ballot for next year’s elections to allow communities to decide if they will have wine in food stores.
This sounds innocuous enough on the surface but many people are up in arms at the exact wording of the legislation and at odds on the impact it may have in the community. The exact question to go on the ballot is, Are You “For legal sale of wine at retail food stores in” your county or “Against legal sale of wine at retail food stores in” your county. In Williamson County we asked around to see what businesses had to say. Upon contacting Publix in Cool Springs we were forwarded to the Director of Community Relations, Brenda Reid. Her reply was in favor of a referendum stating that Publix “is in favor of a vote. We are known for our great customer service and this is a move toward better customer service,” said Reid. The vote allows people to choose the convenience of buying wine where they grocery shop saving time.
Down the way at Red Dog Wines & Spirits, Bard Quillman had a much more passionate opinion with lots of information to support his concerns. The problem is not the referendum or the vote to Quillman, but the wording of the actually bill and the misleading “facts” used to support the need for wine in food stores. Let’s start with the wording of the vote, said Bard. It says food stores but doesn’t define what that means. “Will every convenience store and market with a beer license be selling wine?” Those are unsecured locations for minors to have more access to higher percentage alcohol.
Next is that the studies used to support the bill are all from California’s Napa Valley, explained Quillman. The information is not accurate on how this will impact the community. “Last year’s bill was not accurate either. It is hard to fight a referendum” but people need to know the truth and Quillman hopes communities will seek the facts before asking for a vote. There is no proof of an employment increase or a sales tax collection increase with sales of wine in grocery stores. “In fact people who cross the borders of Tennessee to purchase alcohol do so to avoid the Tennessee sales tax,” said Quillman.
Don’t get the wrong impression, Bard and the wine experts at Red Dog Wine & Spirits are actually on your side in this. They are not against a vote, but want a vote on something based on facts with more education and training required before putting this important change to a vote. No training is required in this bill for new establishments, and there are no restrictions for sale of wine on Sunday when liquor stores are not allowed to be open. Also an important note is that communities like Franklin and Williamson County who have restrictions on the number of establishments allowed to sell wine will no longer have that power, it will be removed with the state law.
Take some time to educate yourself on the facts and contact your legislators to find out more. If you want to hear a great deal of research and information that will truly open your eyes on this issue we suggest you stop in and talk to Bard at Red Dog. He and his crew care about the community here in Williamson County and our quality of life. They want you to be well informed on everything that relates to this issue and wine in general.