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Tennessee 2014 WIGS Residency Requirement for Retail Package Stores Is Not Legal
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Tennessee 2014 WIGS Residency Requirement for Retail Package Stores Is Not Legal

09.19.14
So says the Tennessee Attorney General in an opinion released this week.  The full opinion is here.

For decades, state law required that liquor stores must be owned by Tennessee residents.  The Attorney General found the original residency requirement unconstitutional on June 6, 2012.

Reminds us of Genesis' catchy 1984 hit Illegal Alien:

It's no fun being an illegal alien, I tell ya
It's no fun being an illegal alien, no no no no no
It's no fun being an illegal alien, I mean it when I tell ya that
It's no fun being an illegal alien,
An illegal alien, O.K.
 

As a part of the messy deal struck for wine in grocery stores, which we affectionately call WIGS, the legislature reaffirmed the Tennessee residency requirement with new language designed to make the residency requirement constitutional.  Industry insiders speculate that the Tennessee retail liquor store association pushed for the revamped residency requirement to prevent out-of-state mega liquor stores, which are game changers for the market.

The residency fix in WIGS calls to mind a poignant Einstein quote: "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."  We expected the Attorney General to find that the WIGS residency requirement was unconstitutional.

The take away?  If the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission follows the advice of the Attorney General, retail liquor stores can be owned by folks that are not Tennessee residents.  The Tennessee ABC is not legally bound to follow the Attorney General ruling, but we expect it to do so.

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