Let market, not Blue Law say when alcohol can be sold

Johnson City Press • Feb 6, 2014 at 9:07 AM

As legislation to allow local votes on the sale of wine in supermarkets is hurried to passage, we find it disconcerting that Tennessee lawmakers haven’t taken this opportunity to tackle other antiquated aspects of this state’s liquor laws. In particular, legislators should repeal the Blue Law that costs the state and local governments millions in taxes from the sale of wine and spirits.You can buy beer in grocery and convenience stores (after noon) on Sunday, but you needn’t bother heading down to the local package store for a bottle of Merlot or scotch. It will be closed.Liquor stores, by law, cannot operate on Sunday. It’s just another one of the outdated liquor laws that is still on the books.The Distilled Spirits Council says a recent economic report found that an extra day of wine and liquor sales statewide would generate between $3.3 and $4.6 million in additional tax revenues annually.Legislators are close to passing a new law that would allow local jurisdictions that already sanction either liquor by the drink or retail liquor sales to allow voters to decide whether wine should be sold in grocery stores. As the legislation is currently written, supermarkets — like liquor stores — would not be able to sell wine on Sundays.We believe the bill should be amended to end the Blue Law. Lawmakers should allow the free market to decide when beer, wine and liquor can be sold.

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