Letter: Wine Laws For the People, By the People

An article in the Jan. 29, 2014 Knoxville News Sentinel notes Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, has sponsored a bill "approved by the House State Government Committee, which he chairs." This "bill" includes but is not limited to the following statements:

Proposed Legislation: Wine would have to be sold at 20 percent more than wholesale cost, a provision that would block large-volume stores from cutting prices below those of competing liquor stores.

We live in a capitalistic society. No one said life would be easy. Why should the existing model of Tennessee liquor/wine stores be afforded state protection promulgated via legislated economic protection? Grocery store wine prices should not be manipulated by meddling legislation/legislators! The liquor/wine monopoly has successfully influenced and won in Nashville. Who really runs the Tennessee state government, special-interest lobbyists or elected Tennesseans representing their voters' best interests?

Proposed Legislation: Liquor stores would be allowed to make deliveries to their customers.

Wow! On my home refrigerator there are magnetic cards from Ontario, Canada that read, "Home Delivery", "Call-A-Beer" for *Beer*Liquor*Wine*. I show them to friends and we have a good laugh. It's Canada, eh. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. Delivery in Tennessee means that they are just allowed "to supply, deliver, and install products authorized to be sold by the retailer…. to locations outside of the licensed premises in connection with special events, parties, alcoholic beverage tastings, educational classes, and the establishment of private collections or wine cellars." Well, at least for a moment there I was singing, "O Canada."

Polls have clearly indicated that Tennesseans did not want the liquor/wine store owners to maintain their current sole control on the sale of wine in the Volunteer State. Though, I have not seen nor heard any mention in the legislation of high-gravity ales/beer on which they also currently hold proprietary sales via state legislation. It is now too late to ignore their lobbyists' influence on what should have been a statewide referendum on this issue; one open to all voters. Apparently, now, this will never occur as this latest legislation has finally appeased the liquor/wine store interest just before a probable groundswell of opposition arose. Now it is the "twelfth of never" and too late to implore state House and Senate representatives to unequivocally eliminate the monopoly held by these liquor/wine store owners and allow laissez-faire grocery store sales of wine and high-gravity ales.

The good people who reside in our cities and communities were never allowed the privilege of a citizen in a republic that takes pride in its democracy(?): the right to cast their vote on an issue which affected them. Too bad our state House and Senate representatives could not just do the job for which they asked and were elected to do for us and in all our best interests!

Rob Slaten