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.