Will Liquor Lobbyists and Christian Crazies Stop Wine in Supermarkets Again?

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Popular demand rising for Mad Dog 20/20 in supermarkets
  • Popular demand rising for Mad Dog 20/20 in supermarkets
At the Capitol today, supermarkets kicked off this session's Quixotic campaign for the right to sell wine. Polls show Tennesseans overwhelming favor wine in grocery stores. So of course, the legislature refuses every year to make it legal. In fact, despite an onslaught of fawning media coverage, the bill always has died ignominiously in subcommittee without ever even making it to the House or Senate floor—the victim of a seemingly unbeatable lobbying combination: Liquor industry lobbyists and Christian crazies.

This year, the bill’s sponsors are taking a different tack and they think it’s a game-changer. They’ve altered the bill to allow referendums on the issue in cities that already permit liquor by the drink or retail package stores. This way, weak-kneed lawmakers can claim they’re not really voting for wine in stores but only to let the people decide.

Also working in the bill’s favor are Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, both of whom are for it and have supposedly stacked the appropriate committees to adopt it.

“People across the state have said, hey enough is enough, and it’s gotten to the point—and that point is now—where it’s time,” Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, told a news conference. “The people are done. They’ve said it’s time to move this forward. The legislature is getting that message.”

We know you’re all wondering about Pith in the Wind’s position on wine in grocery stores. Well, unlike the rest of the media in this state, we’re torn on this bill. The crucial issue is whether supermarkets will sell our beverage of choice, Mad Dog 20/20, which you can read more about here at BumWine.com. It falls within the bill’s limits in that its alcohol content is listed as 18 percent or less. But the supermarket lobbyist told us this morning that stores absolutely wouldn’t stock this fabulous product, apparently out of fear that it might attract an unsavory clientele. That’s unacceptable and a deal-breaker as far as we’re concerned.

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