Red White and Food, the nonprofit organization that supports allowing wine sales in Tennessee’s retail food stores, announced the launch of its statewide petition campaign Monday at a news conference held at the Hixson Publix in Chattanooga, one of five news conferences held around the state to announce the campaign.
Brenda Reid, the media relations manager for Publix, discussed the petition collection and approval process. Ms. Reid was joined by Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and Senator Bo Watson, R-Hixson.
“Publix is pleased to join other retail food stores across the state to support the wine in retail food stores petition campaign,” said Ms. Reid. “The petition process is the next step in providing our customers the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like to have wine sales at retailers in their communities.”
The wine in retail food stores bill was passed by both the House and the Senate during the 2014 legislative session, and Governor Bill Haslam signed it into law on March 20.
“My constituents continuously asked for the opportunity to buy wine where they shopped for groceries,” said Rep. McCormick. “I am pleased that Publix and many other retailers across the state are supporting the petition campaign and empowering Tennesseans to let their voices be heard.”
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.
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.
A weekly schedule of signature collection opportunities will be posted to Red White and Food’s website and Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For inquiries related to the number of signatures required in Chattanooga and surrounding areas, please call the Hamilton County Election Commission at 493-5100.