NASHVILLE - After a nearly hour-long, sometimes bitter debate, the House tonight approved a bill allowing whiskey distilleries in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
The bill, which has statewide application, passed on a 57-31 vote. Because of an amendment added by the House, the measure now goes back to the Senate, which passed its own version earlier.
Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, a staunch alcohol foe, attacked the bill repeatedly. He unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to prevent sales of whiskey or free samples offered on tours of whiskey distilleries on Sundays.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, said he brought the measure in part because of Hamilton County having been left out in Carr's original 2009 law. Floyd took Hamilton out of the original law.
Under the legislation, whiskey distilleries can operate in cities like Chattanooga, where voters have previously approved liquor by the drink and package store sales. It also would apply to Hamilton County.
The Chattanooga City Council can vote to remove the city from the provisions. The Hamilton County Commission could vote to remove unincorporated parts of the county from the law.
Much of the debate centered on distance requirements involving churches and schools.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.