NASHVILLE - Tennessee liquor stores would be allowed to be open for business on Sundays under changes to a supermarket wine bill adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.
The panel voted to make several changes to the measure seeking to allow cities and governments to hold referendums on whether to permit supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine.
The changes included ending a ban on liquor stores operating on Sundays and holidays, and linking supermarket wine sales to the hours they are currently allowed to sell beer. The measure would also allow liquor stores to begin selling items like snacks, beer and ice in 2014, regardless of whether a city or county had approved supermarket wine sales.
The panel delayed a final vote on the bill for a week so members could have time to think about the changes. The companion bill has failed in a House committee, but supporters hope it can be revived either this year or next.
The Sunday liquor sales provision was the most contested element of the bill, with its approval coming down to a single vote.
All six votes in favor of Sunday liquor sales came from Republicans, while two GOP members sided with all three Democrats on the panel voting against it.
"I know the blue laws are outdated, but there's something wrong about selling a bottle of whiskey on a Sunday morning," said Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry, of Nashville.
In other action:
• A House panel Tuesday approved legislation that would allow local school districts to employ armed security guards or approve school personnel to carry guns in schools.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, passed the Civil Justice Subcommittee on a voice vote. It now moves on to the full committee.
• Tennessee Republican and Democratic primary voters would no longer call the shots on who their U.S. Senate nominees would be under a bill that advanced in a Senate panel.
Instead, the power would go to the respective Republican and Democratic party caucuses in the General Assembly. Voters would still be able to decide in the general election between party candidates.
• Legislation that would increase the fine for not wearing a seat belt is scheduled to be heard by lawmakers next week.
Currently the penalty for not wearing a seat belt is $10. Under this proposal, the fine would be $50.
• A measure that would have forced schools to tell parents if their children have talked to a teacher or counselor about being gay has failed this session.
The House version of that bill died in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday after it failed to get a second. The measure sought to prohibit classroom discussion of anything other than natural reproduction.
• A Republican lawmaker who last year backed off a bill that would have allowed local officials to hold more closed-door meetings has withdrawn a similar measure this session.
Rep. Glen Casada, of Franklin, withdrew the legislation in the House State Government Subcommittee on Tuesday. His proposal last year sought to allow local government officials to meet privately as long as a quorum isn't present.
Current law forbids two or more members of a local legislative body from meeting privately to deliberate on public business.