published Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Tennessee Senate rejects House version of whiskey distillery bill

Should whiskey be manufactured in Hamilton County?

NASHVILLE — The state Senate today refused to go along with the House version of a liquor distillery bill with members raising objections to several provisions.

A motion by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, to concur with the House’s actions failed on a 13-10 vote, sending the bill back to the House.

The House can either stand by its actions or accept the Senate bill.

Senate debate turned on the issue of allowing Sunday sales by distilleries of their product and offering free samples to customers who take tours of the distillery.

“In my opinion, the House has taken what was a bad bill and made it worse,” said Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.

Ketron unsuccessfully argued that Sunday sales were permitted in the Senate-passed bill.

The bill expands a 2009 distillery law, which among other things took Hamilton County out of the measure. Hamilton County is now in, a goal of Chattanooga Whiskey Co., which despite its name can’t manufacture its product in Chattanooga and buys it from an Indiana distillery.

The issue is coming down to the wire with state lawmakers hoping to conclude their annual session as early as Thursday.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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