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Wine bill clears House hurdle
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NASHVILLE (AP) — A years-long effort to allow wine to be sold outside of Tennessee liquor stores easily cleared what was expected to be its toughest hurdle Thursday when the state House overwhelmingly approved the measure.The bill would grant authority to cities and counties that currently have package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores.Debate lasted one hour and 15 minutes, with opponents raising the specter of Nancy Pelosi, crony capitalism and the undue influence of the liquor lobby to try to dissuade colleagues from voting for the bill. But in the end, those pleas were largely ignored and the measure passed on a 71-15 vote.“Members have heard from their constituents, and the constituents overwhelmingly wanted the opportunity to buy wine in grocery stores,” House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville and a key proponent of the bill, said after the vote. “But members really wanted to protect local businesses as well.”The measure would allow for local votes to take place as early as this fall, but would not allow supermarket wine sales until at least July 2016.