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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal


Tuesday, January 01, 2019 02:47 PM

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Gov. Haslam Signs New Law Into Effect Allowing Wine and Liquior Sales on Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennesseans will be able to buy wine and liquor on Sundays after Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on Friday morning.

The law allows grocery stores to sell wine on Sundays and liquor stores to be open for business that day from the hours of 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Liquor stores will be able to begin sales on Sundays effective immediately. Grocery stores will follow on Jan. 1, 2019.

All businesses will be able to sell alcohol on Labor Day, New Year's Day and Fourth of July as well, but it still bans sales on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

Will local liquor stores open Sunday?
- Bob's Liquor & Wine
Will be open 1-6 p.m. Sunday, April 22
- Admiral Wine & Spirits
Will open on Sunday, April 29

- Cedar Bluff Wine & Spirits
Scheduled to open Sunday, May 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

- Ashe's Wine & Spirits
Looking into opening in April, but is scheduled to start Sundays in May.

- Northshore Wine & Spirits
Not sure about Sunday schedule yet.

- Toddy's
Not sure about Sunday schedule yet.

- Lange's Liquor Store
Not sure about Sunday schedule yet.

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, sponsored the bill that passed on a 17-11 vote on April 11. A spokeswoman for Gov. Haslam at that time indicated plans to sign the bill into law.

"The governor is deferred to the will of the legislature on this bill as amended," Gov. Haslam's spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals wrote. "While he reviews all bills in their final form when they are sent to his desk, he has indicated he will sign this bill."

At a Morristown event on April 12, Gov. Haslam confirmed the statement his spokeswoman released on Wednesday, adding that he expects the bill to get to his desk within the next 5 or 6 days.

Sen. Ketron said he feels the government should not be dictating when a store can and can't be open, adding that the polls he ran on the subject got a 70 percent approval from Tennessee residents.

"This bill; it's not a shall, it's a may (be open)," Sen. Ketron said, citing Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby as examples.

Sen. Ketron said the Bible describes wine as a gift from God and to drink in moderation. He also referenced the Biblical story of Jesus turning water into wine.

According to Sen. Ketron, Tennessee will join 43 other states repealing the ban on Sunday sales, including the five states surrounding Tennessee. Ketron said the state is losing sales tax revenue every Sunday when Tennessee residents cross over to surrounding states to buy liquor and wine.

Sen. Ketron said this change is good because the demographics have changed in Tennessee. The senator said people used to do their shopping on Saturdays, but now more often they spend that day with their families and do their shopping on Sundays.

There was some debate on the bill before it passed April 11.

Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, was among those who voted against the bill. He said the average liquor store in Tennessee only had four employees.

"These are mom and pop shops," Sen. Harris said. "If this bill passes, they'll be forced to open on Sundays in order to stay competitive, which is an increase in payroll."

Sen. Harris said this bill could put shops like this out of business, or at the very least the store owners will have to give up their Sundays, "which are reserved for faith and family." Sen. Harris said regulation should be changed on a case-by-case basis, and he didn't believe this bill should be one of those cases.

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, voted against the bill as well. He opposed the part of the bill he said limits who a retailer can sell its inventory to if it's going out of business. Sen. Ketron said current state law only allows stores to sell the inventory back to state wholesalers, who then can sell it back to customers at a reduced price. Sen. Gardenhire said he would vote against the bill unless they could amend the bill to allow sales to other retailers.

HB1540, the House version of the liquor bill, passed 55-35 on April 9. It passed the Senate finance, ways and means committee on a 7-3 vote on April 3.