NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel5) -- The top two Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly support allowing the selling wine in supermarkets.
And the influx of new GOP lawmakers is giving them the opportunity to reshape key committees where efforts to make that change have long been corked up by opponents.
Under the state's restrictive three-tiered beverage control system, every drop of alcohol is supposed to flow from the manufacturer to a wholesale distributor and finally to the retailers. And any bottle stronger than beer can only be bought at one of 501 liquor stores around the state.
Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro has introduced a bill now backed by the speakers of the House and Senate that would allow voters in counties that already have bars and liquor stores to decide if they want to buy wine in grocery stores as well.
"We think that the timing is right based on what the people in Tennessee have requested over the last couple of years based on polling," said Ketron.
Both the House and Senate speakers say they support the latest proposal to counties that currently allow liquor sales to hold a referendum on whether to remove liquor stores' exclusive right to sell wine.
Many grocery stores support the movement called "Red, White & Food" saying it gives customers what they want.
"This has started because of the consumer. I mean the 'Where's the Wine?' that's on our sign comes from our consumer statements in our stores," said Jarron Springer with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Stores.
Both sides have been going back and forth over this for years, but this time could be different with support before the session ever begins
Senator Ketron said the bill will go through the Senate first. where it could potentially get enough votes. He says liquor stores should also be able to sell ice, mixers and other things as well, but that isn't something many seem to be interested in doing.
Governor Haslam said he believes Tennesseans would put wine in grocery stores if it was put to a referendum.