NASHVILLE — A bill allowing cities like Chattanooga to approve whiskey distilleries emerged from the House State Government Subcommittee today on a 4-1 vote.
Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, spoke against the change to the 2009 law that opened up state and allowed counties to approve distilleries. Floyd at the time removed Hamilton County from the bill.
Most other Hamilton County lawmakers back the change.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, allows elected officials in cities to approve distilleries if the city’s voters have previously approved liquor-by-the-drink and liquor package store sales.
Chattanooga Whiskey Co., which wants to open a distillery in Chattanooga, sought the changes.
The bill was delayed last week as a result of its impact on another bill provision impacting an unrelated dispute in Gatlinburg. That assumed the ferocity of an old-fashioned moonshiners’ war with a businessman seeking to operate in the city charging an existing distillery and city officials blocked his ability to locate nearby.
The bill’s provision would allow him to open. Meanwhile, the owner of the existing distillery took out newspaper ads charging lobbyists with trying to “sneak” a bill impacting local control through the legislature.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...