Q&A: Jarron Springer

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10:05pm

A federal court ruling in Kentucky that deems the commonwealth’s “no wine or spirits in grocery stores” unconstitutional has reignited the age-old discussion in Tennessee. Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocer & Convenience Store Association, broke down the decision — and the issue — with The City Paper.


What happened in Kentucky?

A retailer in Kentucky challenged the constitutionality of the way Kentucky’s laws were written to allow who can sell wine and spirits in Kentucky. … [The federal court] found the way Kentucky’s laws are written to be unconstitutional. Now they are going through the process of what does that mean and if
it will be appealed to the 6th Circuit.

After Prohibition, every state wrote alcohol laws differently, so our statutes aren’t the same as Kentucky. … Ultimately, the idea that another state that borders us is going to be able to sell wine in food stores is just more of a reason to why we need to address the situation here.


What is the game plan, from your perspective, on effecting the change?

We have our Red, White and Food campaign name. It’s a platform that enables consumers to sign up … to communicate with them and push out information [about legislators and voting].

We are trying to make this a campaign talking point that [candidates] have to address in forums.


What have been the main roadblocks in the past?

Basically, the roadblocks are the committee system. You’re talking about 132 people in the legislature, but essentially this comes down to nine people in the House and nine people in the Senate. Until those committees where this bill goes has five people on it willing to vote in favor of it … well, then it’s not going to go anywhere.

The bulk of the legislature agrees. The bulk of the legislature would vote for this, and they say this is going to happen. But until those committee assignments are made to allow this to get out of the committee, this stays bottled up.

4 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 8/22/12 at 7:05

WHen this comes back to committee, we need to be banging on those member's doors...this is BS. Pure politics to protect the interests of a few.

By: govskeptic on 8/22/12 at 7:39

Our laws on alcohol sales are or should be unconstitutional on many
areas. Wine in grocery stores are just one of those areas. The very
few "Wholesalers" with their huge profits and legislator donations
over many years, far too long, is problem number one.

By: PKVol on 8/23/12 at 7:40

And when we lose the local wine / spirit retailers and the profits go out of state instead of staying in the local economy, no one will be upset with yet another loss of the independent local retailer to the mega box - i.e. pharmacies, clothiers, book stores, groceries... .

By: cannoneer2 on 8/23/12 at 5:42

I just can't muster a whole lot of sympathy for the spirits wholesalers or retailers. If they had been responsible and not gouged their customers on prices and scrimped on availability, maybe we wouldn't be on the path that we're on today. They didn't HAVE to throw their weight and money all around the legislature among other things. Try exercising the freedom of purchasing in another state, Kentucky, for example, and you might just be greeted across our state line by an inquisitive goon/THP/ABC officer who will be curious as to whether you made any purchases while you were there. That inquisitiveness is courtesy of the liquor folks and their friends in the Legislature. If we can effect change, good riddance to the old system! As for the peculiar business model of the "independent local retailer" of liquor, adapt or fail!