Bills that were introduced in both the House and the Senate to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores died Tuesday without being considered in either chamber.
House Bill 981, sponsored by Rep. Brent Powell (R-Flowood), and Senate Bill 2531, sponsored by Sen. Walter Michel (R-Ridgeland), would have allowed wine to be sold in grocery stores, while providing up to six permits. You are currently limited to one permit.
New establishments, including Costco in Ridgeland, Whole Foods in Jackson, and Sam’s Club in Madison, have separate establishments that sell alcohol – essentially their own liquor store attached to their main store, but not a place you can access without leaving the main grocery store.
Most grocery stores can’t or won’t take on what is an unnecessary burden.
The opposition to wine in grocery stores is very loud, and obviously influential with legislators. And they don’t even hide what they are trying to do. It is liquor stores who don’t want competition, and everyone in Jackson knows that. But it shouldn’t be the job of the legislature to pick winners and losers. Coupled with the Department of Revenue who says we can’t handle the capacity of the wine needed to stock Kroger and Walmart (maybe we should remove the state from the alcohol distribution business), you have a pretty dangerous one-two punch that has outgunned citizens who overwhelmingly favor this idea.
It is abundantly clear that most Mississippians who don’t have a vested interest in the status quo want change. They are tired of having the government make life decisions for them and would prefer that they have the ability to decide if, when, and where they purchase wine.
Wine sales in grocery stores are legal in 39 states, including Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee. But it will remain illegal in Mississippi, at least in 2020.
We did, however, see some movement on other alcohol freedom bills:
- SB 2534 would authorize the direct shipment of wine. It cleared the Senate Finance committee after a reverse repealer was placed on the bill, ensuring it comes back from the House. A much narrower bill, HB 1088, that would allow you to have wine shipped, but only to a liquor store, passed the House Ways and Means committee.
- HB 4 would increase the number of liquor store permits you can have.
- SB 2552 would remove the prohibition on how much alcohol a craft brewery can sell on its premises.