A pair of bills introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly could literally shut down historic bars like Tootsie's in Nashville and most every bar on Beale Street in Memphis. The shots fired to stop the shot glasses come from none other than one of the main sponsors of last year's controversial "guns in restaurants" legislation.
State Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville), who also serves as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, has introduced legislation that would require all establishments that serve alcohol to report their monthly food sales to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If 50 percent of their revenue doesn't come from the sale of food, they would lose their license to sell alcoholic beverages.
Todd also has introduced a bill that "as introduced, prohibits the sale, distribution, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, wine, or beer between the hours of midnight and 8:00 a.m. at any establishment or facility receiving a license or permit to operate by the state, county, or municipality."
Asked about the legislation, Todd said the bill pertaining to food was submitted to require the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce its own rules. According to the rules of the ABC, "the principal business of a restaurant licensee must be the serving of meals." Currently, the ABC does not have a way to license establishments who admit that the majority of their revenue comes from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Asked if this legislation was a response to the uproar over a law enacted last year to allow persons to carry firearms into establishments that serve alcoholic beverages, Todd replied that it was. That law, incidentally, was deemed unconstitutional by the courts and is still facing legal challenges.
"The governor has the sole responsibility over the ABC. He appoints them," Todd said. He went on to point out that, according to state law, restaurants are the only establishments that can sell beer, wine, or alcohol and in order to be a restaurant, 50 percent of revenues must come from the sale of food.
"It is in the rules of the ABC, which is under the governor's authority, and they should enforce it," Todd said.
In regard to the bill that would ban the sale of alcoholic beverages after midnight, Todd smiled and said, "Nothing good happens after midnight."
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