published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Chattanooga whiskey proposal delayed for week

NASHVILLE — Efforts to let liquor distilleries operate in Chattanooga became whiskey-a-no-go in a House subcommittee Wednesday after the bill's sponsor accused opponents of one provision of using "thug tactics."

Chattanooga is seeking to join counties that may operate distilleries. The permission is in a bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas.

But Wednesday, Carr delayed the bill for a week, citing a full-page newspaper ad attacking the bill and pressuring State Government Subcommittee members over a separate local-control provision.

Carr charged that a Gatlinburg company, Ole' Smoky Moonshine Distillery, paid for the ad urging readers to call lawmakers to vote no on the bill as a way of keeping liquor laws local.

The ad says local control "is one of the most important tools for law enforcement, schools, and health officials to manage responsible alcohol use in our neighborhoods.

"But," the ad warns, "lobbyists are trying to sneak a bill through our Tennessee legislature that would take away the right of local government to manage liquor license applications for some stores that sell alcohol."

Carr said Ole' Smoky is battling a competitor seeking to locate within 1,000 feet of its distillery and liquor store. He believes the owners persuaded Gatlinburg officials to adopt the 1,000-foot boundary to fend off the competitor.

Carr said the bill would clean up various provisions, including such boundaries, in the 2009 distillery law.

Ole' Smoky executives could not be contacted Wednesday afternoon and evening.

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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