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Ketron Flips Henry, Local-Option Wine-In-Supermarkets Lives On

It’s been a seesaw year for the perennial effort; Senate sponsor hoping for robust finish

Bill Ketron’s wine-in-grocery-stores bill just won’t quit.

Despite losing a vote to a 5-5-1 tie Tuesday morning in the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee, the Republican state senator from Murfreesboro now says he has swung the vote he needs to bring SB837 back before the committee next week.

Ketron, who chairs the Republican caucus in the Senate, told TNReport that Nashville Democrat Douglas Henry voted against the bill because he had concerns about an amendment dealing with wine sales on Sundays. But now that parliamentary procedure allows that amendment to be scrapped, Ketron said, Henry signed on to bring the bill back.

“We passed the next amendment that would strike that amendment but both amendments would have to go travel to the full floor and [Sen. Henry] had a concern that it could pop out again on the full floor to allow sales on Sunday and holidays…so he had to vote no. Now that we can reconsider our action on that amendment, we’ll get rid of it, remove it, he’s good to go.”

The initial failure Tuesday appeared to be the the final blow to the bill, which would allow counties and municipalities to hold local referenda to decide whether supermarkets and other food stores could sell wine. The House version, HB610, carried by Republican Jon Lundberg of Bristol went flat in committee last month in the face of strong opposition from wholesale liquor-seller and package-store lobbyists.

But by Tuesday afternoon, Ketron sounded confident that he could get the legislation out of committee on the Senate side which, he said, might get things moving again in the lower chamber.

“I don’t know what the momentum—what effect that has, ripple effect it has in the House, so if it doesn’t happen this year, at least we’ve advanced it,” said Ketron. “My intention is to move it out of Finance, park it in Calendar, we’ll wait on the House, either immediately after, for the next two weeks or the first calendar in January of 2014.”

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