NASHVILLE - A bill aimed at letting grocery stores sell wine was put off today by a House panel until July 4, 2012, as powerful liquor store owners mounted a full-court press against the bill.
The House State and Local Government Subcommittee's decision to put off the bill effectively kills it.
The move came after legislative opponents voted down an amendment that would have let voters decide in local referendums whether grocery stores should sell wine.
During his argument in favor of the measure, Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, the bill's sponsor, noted that a Costco store decided to locate in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., instead of Chattanooga because of current restrictions.
"If you defeat this amendment, what you are saying is, 'No, I do not want the people in my district to vote,'" Lundberg said. "You are basically saying you don't trust the people in your district to make the right decision."
Earlier, State and Local Government Committee Chairman Curry Todd, R-Collierville, sharply criticized studies and a legislative analysis that said the bill would generate new revenue and jobs.
"Don't give me that," Todd snapped at Lundberg. "I don't think it's going to bring jobs and money. I disagree with you. Folks in the grocery business are not going to hire new people."
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.