Red White and Food, the nonprofit organization that supports allowing wine sales in Tennessee’s retail food stores, launched its statewide petition campaign this week at a news conference held at the Green Hills Kroger in Nashville, one of five news conferences held around the state to announce the campaign.
Melissa Eads, a Red White and Food board member and the community relations manager for the Nashville division of Kroger, discussed the petition collection and approval process. Eads was joined Monday by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
“Kroger is excited to be a part of the Red White and Food petition campaign,” said Eads. “The petition process is crucial to Tennesseans’ finally having the opportunity to buy wine where they shop for groceries. That is why we will be joining the state’s other retailers in hosting signature collection opportunities at our eligible store locations across the state.”
The wine-in-retail-food-stores bill was passed by both the House and the Senate during the 2014 legislative session, and Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law March 20.
“For years the majority of Tennesseans have expressed support for expanding wine sales into retail food stores,” said Harwell. “I am proud to have helped broker a compromise this year between retail food store and liquor store representatives that allowed the bill to move forward. I thank Red White and Food and our state’s retail food stores for taking on the challenge of placing the wine referendum on the ballot through the petition campaign.”
To get the wine referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot, eligible communities—those that already allow liquor by the drink, liquor stores or both—must submit petitions to the local election commission with at least as many valid signatures from registered voters as would equal 10 percent of the residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election. Registered voters may sign the petition only once. The petitions must be completed and verified by the local election commissions by Aug. 21.
“With the passage of the wine in retail food stores bill this year, Tennesseans now have the right to vote on this issue through local referendum,” said Ketron. “As a bill sponsor, I am pleased that retailers will be leading the petition drive to collect signatures in eligible communities.”
Red White and Food is supported by a number of Tennessee retail food stores from across the state and the Tennessee Retail Association. The group announced May 5 that it has become an independent nonprofit organization and will lead the statewide wine referendum campaign.
In communities where the referendum passes, retail food stores will be able to sell wine beginning July 1, 2016.