As the Tennessee General Assembly reconvened in Nashville last week, I imagine some of our legislators triumphantly returning to the Capitol in a manner similar to Randy Quaid’s character in Independence Day. It’s sure to be another exciting session – one that we’ll be following closely.
Tuesday marked the official start of session for the Tennessee General Assembly and the sixth consecutive session during which bills would be filed to allow wine sales in Tennessee retail food stores. Will 2012 be the year?
We are closer than ever – each year, the Red White and Food campaign and its more than 26,000 members help spread the word about the issue, contact elected officials and submit letters to the editors of their local newspapers. Let’s keep up the momentum!
Just last week, the Washington Post reported on new research that found that “states where wine makes up a larger part of total alcohol consumption tend to have lower rates of traffic fatalities.”
And just to recap for our new readers, the main reasons we believe Tennesseans should support wine sales in Tennessee retail food stores are:
- Consumer choice – Consumers should be allowed to choose where they buy their wine. Visitors to Tennessee repeatedly ask “Where’s the wine?” as they wander the aisles of our grocery stores.
- Convenience – Consumers should not have to make an extra trip to pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner. Wine is a logical complement to groceries.
- Competition – Competition is healthy and levels the playing field. Consumers should not be imprisoned by liquor store and distributor prices. “Just say no” to monopolies.
- State revenue –The estimated fiscal impact of wine sales in retail food stores according to the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee would be $13 million in state revenue and $9 million in local revenue. In addition, residents in border cities have a choice as to where they purchase their groceries and wine, and often cross into Arkansas or Georgia for the lower prices and better selection. Last year, a retail store chose to build in Georgia instead of Chattanooga, Tenn., because it could sell wine there!
- Responsible sales – Retail food stores are required to card for alcohol sales to all consumers.
Many of our opponents claim that allowing wine sales in Tennessee retail food stores will only increase instances of underage drinking and drunk driving. While we want to know how many 18-year-olds want to drink (or can afford) wine at their parties, the statistics are on our side:
- New research last week in the Washington Post – read it here.
- According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, states without wine in grocery stores had an average of 8.2 youth DUIs per 100,000 residents, while states that allowed wine in grocery stores had an average of 6.8 per 100,000 residents.
- The FBI also found that states allowing wine sales in retail food stores had an average of 21.7 fewer youth liquor violations per 100,000 residents than states without wine in grocery stores.
We look forward to a lively session and encourage you to keep up the good fight. As always, here are a few ways you can participate in the Red White and Food campaign:
As always, thank you for your support!
The Red White and Food Team