With wine in grocery stores winning handily almost everywhere it was on the ballot, the only real question is this: Will consumers have to wait until 2016 in order to pick up a bottle of Yellowtail at Publix or Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe's?
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s signature on the wine-in-grocery stores law had barely dried before he told reporters Thursday he thinks lawmakers may feel pressure to move up the date when people start shopping for bubbly in their supermarkets.
“When people have a referendum in November and realize when they go to the grocery store in December to buy their wine for Christmas they won’t be able to buy it for another year and a half,” Ramsey said, “that will end up being a political problem for a lot of people, in my opinion.”
Grocery stores were willing to give the lengthy lead time to liquor stores in order to get the bill passed, delaying their wine sales until July 2016 but allowing liquor stores to begin selling goods like beer and cigarettes July of this year. Ramsey said he’s always seen that delay as a political problem and said he sees lawmakers wanting to move up the start date at least six months, although added it will not be a part of his own legislative agenda.
“They’ll be lined up to file that, that’s just my prediction,” Ramsey said.
This time, Rep. Jon Lundberg added the guts of the wine-in-grocery stores bill to his copy, which paves the way for voter referendums. Both his HB610 and Rep. Ryan Haynes' HB47 are still on the move. Next stop: full Finance Ways and Means Committee.
Step one complete: The state Senate has voted 23-8 to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores. But there's still work to be done, including changing language concerning high-gravity beers.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said he recognized that the bill is the result of a compromise to ensure its passage, but expressed disappointment that it no longer included provisions to allow beer stronger than 6.5 percent to be sold in convenience stores.
The speaker saves the day on wine-in-grocery-stores:
The speaker can vote on any of the committees. And for the first time this year, Harwell chose to do so. She says it’s time to find a compromise that would still be agreeable to the state’s 600 liquor stores, which are the only places wine can be sold now.
“We don’t want to hurt those liquor stores, and we want to do everything we can to make this as palatable to them as possible. This brings everyone to the table to discuss it.”
In the American system, the Speaker is a partisan position — leader of the House's majority party. But in Westminster systems, the Speaker plays a more neutral role (typically standing for re-election with the label of "The Speaker" rather than a specific party).
In the case of ties, the Speakers in those countries follow something called "Speaker Denison's Rule." In short, "The principle is to always vote in favor of further debate, or, where no further debate is possible, to vote in favor of the status quo." In this case, Harwell's vote kept the bill alive for further debate. I've no idea if she knew was following the grand tradition of Speaker Denison, but she did nonetheless.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS