Haslam may let COD bill pass without signature

Heeding pressure from the hospitality industry, Gov. Bill Haslam may leave his signature off a bill forcing bars and restaurants to pay wholesalers for alcohol upon delivery, sources say.

Interest groups have been quietly lobbying the governor against the bill after Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, tacked the language onto legislation in the final days of the legislative session that would expand the state’s winery laws.

Small business groups and the hospitality industry are urging the governor to veto the measure, arguing the change would create financial hardship for bars, restaurants and hotels. The state’s wholesaler’s association contends the change would simplify logistics for companies that now deliver alcohol and have to wait 10 days before they get paid. Although, not all agree.

“They are going to have to write checks more often. They will most likely only order what they need for a night which will put an unbelievable burden on my warehouse and my delivery driver,” wrote Jeanne Boone, CEO of Nashville-based BooneDocks Distribution, about her restaurant customers. “Think of what it would do to my company if I had to start running a truck to every restaurant in town that I work with five days a week.”

And while the law will force hotels, restaurants and bars to pay immediately, liquor stores will still have the 10-day grace period. 

Haslam has until May 24 to sign or veto HB2027/SB2415. If he takes no action, the bill will become law without the symbolic gesture of his endorsement.

Now in his fourth year of weighing bills passed by the legislature, Haslam has vetoed two pieces of legislation and let one into law without his signature during this term.