NASHVILLE - Residents in Chattanooga and many other Tennessee cities would be allowed to vote on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets and convenience stores under a bill passed this morning by the state Senate.
The vote was 23-8. Similar legislation is moving in the House.
If the bill ultimately passes, voters in cities and counties could vote on the issue as early as this November. But grocery stores couldn't actually sell wine until July 1, 2016.
Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, the bill's sponsor, told colleagues he had been working on the issue for more than seven years.
"The people of Tennessee want this opportunity," Ketron said.
The House version of the bill differs from the Senate's. For example, convenience stores with at least 1,200 square feet would be able to qualify to sell wine in the Senate version. The House bill calls for a minimum of 2,000 square feet.