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Tennessee bill would ban sale of beer in grocery self-checkout lines

February 23, 2012 By: mike Category: Beer in the news, Government, Memphis

Rep. Bill Sanderson

Tenn. Rep. Bill Sanderson wants to prohibit customers from using a self-checkout machine to buy beer at grocery stores.

If one Tennessee legislator has his way, you won’t be able to skip the long lines at the grocery story and go to the self-checkout line with a sixer of beer in hand.

House Bill 3865, sponsored by Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), would prohibit a customer from using a self-checkout machine for the purchase of beer.

Retailers would also have to post signs near the self-checkout machines to notify customers that they can’t use the machines to buy beer.

The bill, which is opposed by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, was recommended for passage by a House subcommittee Wednesday and referred to the State & Local Government Committee. It’s on the calendar to be heard Tuesday (Feb. 28).

“The intent of this bill is actually to just keep alcohol out of the hands of our youth,” Sanderson said in explaining the bill Wednesday.

The legislator said his son told him about a practice called “swipe and swap.” A minor, he said, scans a six-pack of soft drinks or similar product at the self-checkout machine but then replaces it in the bag with beer.

“I have a 15-year-old son that brought my attention to it. He had seen it on a movie,” Sanderson said.

TGCSA Logo Representative of the grocery store industry disputed the notion that minors are scoring beer this way.

Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, said “swipe and swap” is theft, and “with 1 to 2 percent profit margins in our industry, we can’t handle to have theft in our stores”.

“If this was an issue — and beer, which is a high-dollar product was walking out the door — we would address that,” Springer added.

Dan Haskell, lobbyist for the grocers association, also noted that self-checkout areas are “actually physically supervised by somebody who is old enough to check out beer” and that IDs are always checked when beer is scanned.

“The number of minors purchasing beer through grocery stores in this state is extremely small,” Haskell said.

The bill specifies that no customer may be permitted to use a self-checkout machine to purchase beer. However, if a customer who is 21 years of age or older uses the self-checkout machine to buy beer, that customer would not be charged with a violation of the law. But businesses could face misdemeanor charges if minors buy beer in the self-checkout lines.

The Senate version of the proposal — Senate Bill 3433 — is being sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), but no action has been taken.

Follow the progress of the bill here. ABC 24 in Memphis also did a story on it, with reaction from local shoppers.

We’ll keep you up to date when we hear any developments. What are your thoughts on this issue? Leave a comment below.

Tennessee legislature approves high-alcohol beer bill in hopes of luring Sierra Nevada

May 23, 2011 By: mike Category: Beer in the news, Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

Tennessee Legislature in action

The Tennessee Senate approved a bill Friday allowing breweries to make and sell high-alcohol beers. The House followed suit Saturday.

Over the weekend, the Tennessee legislature approved a bill that allows breweries in Tennessee to make and sell high-alcohol beers.

The measure, which is aimed at enticing California’s Sierra Nevada to open a brewery in Alcoa in East Tennessee, was approved in the Senate on Friday by a 28-3 margin. It then passed in the House of Representatives on Saturday by a 69-15 vote and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

“This amendment came because of a significant economic development opportunity for the state of Tennessee, and we’ve had a lot of input and a lot of folks around the table,” Sen. Doug Overby (R-Maryville) said Friday on the Senate floor.

I’m still trying to get my arms around what this bill will mean long-term, but a controversial element of an earlier version of the bill was removed after opposition from craft brewers.  The bill would have created a pilot program to allow for high-alcohol brewing for just three, select breweries — one in each of Tennessee’s three divisions. (Read earlier FuzzyBrew post for more details.)

But that aspect was deleted and the bill was opened up to put all Tennessee breweries on equal footing. That’s good news to craft brewers like Chuck Skypeck, founding partner of Ghost River Brewing and Boscos in Memphis.

It’s not in our immediate plans here to do any high alcohol beers, but I don’t want to be in a situation where we change our mind and can’t because of an egregious state law,” Skypeck told the Memphis Daily News. “We’ve gone from a pretty alarming situation on Monday to a pretty good position here at the end of the week.” [source]

The bill allows licensed brewers of high-alcohol beers (defined as beers between 5 and 20 percent by weight) to obtain a license for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off-premises and to also “obtain a license as a restaurant or a limited service restaurant located on the premises of the manufacturer,” according to the bill summary.

A new 15-percent inspection fee imposed by the municipality or county would be imposed on manufacturers of high alcohol content beer that obtain a retail license. The bill also specifies that the present state taxes on wine would be imposed on high alcohol content beer.

The Tennessee legislature rushed through scores of bills before adjourning Saturday at the end of the 2o11 session, and not too much has been written about the beer bill.

Any thoughts, insights, clarifications? Please leave a comment below.