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Bill would allow Tenn. supermarkets to sell wine sooner

Two months after Tennessee voters in 78 municipalities approved the Wine in Grocery Stores initiative to permit grocery stores to sell wine beginning in July 2016, a bill that would move that date up by a year was introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly, according to a Knoxville News Sentinel report.

Under the measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bo Mitchell of Nashville, food stores could start selling wine this summer — or in the summer of 2016 if they are located near an existing liquor store.

But wine and liquor store owners in these counties — who expect grocery chains to take away 30% of their business when the law takes effect, according to Memphis-based News Channel 3  — expected to have more time to prepare for the increased competition.

Meanwhile, supermarkets in the municipalities that approved the Wine In Grocery Stores ballot initiative, intend to gather more signatures so that the measure can be presented to voters in additional operating areas.

To get the initiative on the most recent ballot, supporters had to gather signatures from at least 10% of the voters in each community. The petition drive was a result of a law signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in March stating that wine can be sold in food stores if voters approve the measure in a local referendum.

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