The Tennessee legislature has been grappling with the issue of allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores for years. Generally speaking, the issue has been shot down in committee without much consideration.
This year, with the change in political climate in Tennessee to a more pro business, less government attitude, it was widely considered that the issue would finally be allowed to go forward. Another, more significant reason to expect the legislature to act intelligently, was that the current proposal is not a simple mandate, it would now be a proposition that would be voted on; by us. The current issue facing the legislature is to allow us, the citizens, the voting public, to vote, up or down, in a referendum.
Now referendums are not difficult, costly, or complicated to put into place. Anyone that follows politics knows that states like California will have many, many different referendums that they allow their fellow statesmen to duly put, or not put, into place. Of course, the Thirteenth District Court of Appeals may ultimately quash the vote of the citizenry, unconstitutionally usually, but that is another story.
Now, we hear utterly specious arguments like that from Liza Hunt, who so brilliantly stated that alcohol was already too accessible to minors, and that putting it in grocery stores would, somehow, make it all that much more accessible. Really? Why? Because, now, it's in a new spot? Are grocery store workers entirely incompetent? As opposed to other retail stores? She sagely added " I know how younger kids get it. They'll send their friends in that are a little older."
This is the argument? Perhaps the height of ignorance. If alcohol is for sale in a spot, it is accessible. Simple. If it is available in another spot, how does that make it more accessible to an illegal minor? Theoretically, if a person is a minor, alcohol is not accessible. Period. Simple. If there is already a law in place to protect against accessibility, why is that not enough?
It is amazing that such a tiny clique of individuals has the power to prevent the citizens of this state to have access to a legal product. The committee vote was 8-7 against. It is safe to say the lobby group that "stopped" this measure is not much more than that eight. By that, I mean to say the lobby group, including all those effected, is included in that count.
As a final note, this falls into the craft beer category because the beer wholesalers industry finally fell in behind the bill and supported it, with one caveat in that they would be able to sell high gravity beer in grocery stores, as well. That makes total sense, of course, in that high gravity beer is still typically lower in alcohol by volume than wine.
This is very simple. It is about consumer choice. The wine and liquor lobbies are filthy rich because they are paid to be. They are also effective. A small handful of people are protecting their fiefdom. That is it. This change would hardly touch their silk purse strings. Allow the people to choose!