The bill to allow grocery stores to sell all kinds of wine — not just Arkansas and small-batch products — was approved by the House today on reconsideration, 53-34.
It goes to the Senate, for likely approval, with a House amendment that expands the ability of liquor stores to sell food and also adds more encouragement for construction of a wine visitor center in Arkansas.
The bill is the result of lobbying by Walmart, major grocery chains and a handful of big liquor stores that capitalize on sales in neighboring counties. The liquor stores rolled over in return for a promise that Walmart and the groceries wouldn’t repeat efforts to get local option alcohol measures approved for the next eight years. Small liquor stores have battled the bill, but looks like they’ve lost. They say they’ll lose profit margin and some will be forced to close. Arkansas wineries had some objections, too.