House approves Sunday sales of liquor and wine, 55-35

Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattnooga), center, speaks with Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan), right, after a House vote on Sunday wine sales. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The House voted 55-35 Monday evening to authorize sale of bottled liquor and wine on Sundays, sending the bill to the Senate where a vote is scheduled Wednesday.

House approval of HB1540, sponsored by Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) came after lengthy,  spirited debate and adoption of some amendments revising some provisions.

The original bill included a mandatory minimum 20 percent markup on the wholesale cost of liquor sold at retail. One approved amendment reduced that to 10 percent. An attempt to delete the provision entirely was voted down.

Another approved amendment will continue prohibition of liquor and wine on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. The bill as it reached the floor would have allowed sales on all holidays as well as on Sundays.

The bill also includes a provision declaring no new liquor stores can be licensed in Tennessee for three years after the measure becomes law. An attempt to delete that section of the bill was rejected. The bill would allow liquor stores to begin Sunday sales as soon as the governor signs the legislation into law, though supermarkets and grocery stores would have to wait until Jan. 1, 2019.:

Further from the Times Free Press:

McCormick said he brought the legislation as a follow-through on an historic law passed four years ago allowing grocery stores to sell wine. He said he’s fielded numerous complaints from patrons blocked from purchasing bottles of wine.

The bill aligns hours and days when wine can be sold at grocery stores with the current laws permitting beer sales.

Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, quoted from the Bible in opposing the measure.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” the rural West Tennessean said, later jabbing at bill supporters saying he would “be remiss” if he didn’t point out that some proponents “in almost every context claim their Christian faith” but were voting for the bill.

Holt also fretted the bill would place more alcohol “in the hands of those more susceptible.”

Later, Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, a minister, fired back at the religious overtones.

“I’ve heard more about righteousness … than I’ve heard in 18 years in this Legislature,” he said, adding that Old Testament injunctions were superseded by Jesus.

“We need to stop playing this game of righteousness,” Shaw said. “I’ve seen legislation pass on this floor that hurt people a lot more than selling liquor on Sunday. Personally, because Jesus died for my sins, every day is holy.”

He asked: “What’s the difference between having a drink on Sunday and hating somebody Monday?”

…”The purpose again in bringing this bill is to give consumers who are our constituents and businesses the ability to make their own decisions regarding the purchase and sale of these products instead of the current system that has the government telling them what they can do and what they can’t do,” McCormick said.

Note: The roll call vote is HERE.

6 Responses to House approves Sunday sales of liquor and wine, 55-35

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.