By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
Marshall County's recently sworn-in state representative has tentatively taken a stand - noting he doesn't have all the information yet - against the sale of wine in grocery stores.
"I'm opposed to it," Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg) said Friday in a cellphone interview as he returned home after his first week in Nashville when the Legislature was in session. "That's today, not having heard all the arguments.
"Liquor store owners enter into that argument with a degree of confidence," said Spivey.
Storeowners contend they've been conducting business under laws passed by the state "with the idea it would be supporting their business," he explained. Changing the laws, and therefore market conditions, could threaten their business model and income.
"They're sending their kids to college and putting food on the table with the business model established by the State of Tennessee," Spivey said. "And that's problematic for me."
His remarks came while talking about his committee assignment to the State Government Committee.
That committee is where legislation on wine sales would be considered before reaching the House floor. It's one of two new committees created from what was the State and Local Government Committee. That committee had a high workload, so it was split.
"Anything that is statewide goes to that (state government) committee, like wine in groceries," Spivey said.
The State Government Committee considers legislation regarding holidays and celebrations; military parks and battlefields; museums; preservation of historical markers; public lands; state and public libraries; and state government in general.
Meanwhile, light workloads were why two House committees on agriculture and natural resources were combined.
"I am also pleased to begin work on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and look forward to discussing the important issues this committee will tackle in the coming weeks and months," Spivey said.
House Speaker Beth Harwell appointed Spivey to those two committees for the 108th session of the General Assembly.
While campaigning in Lewisburg with Gov. Bill Haslam, Harwell was asked if Spivey might become a member of the education committee. She indicated he could be a good member of that panel, but made no promise, and Spivey said he was somewhat surprised that education wasn't one of his assignments.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee considers legislation affecting agricultural and farming, as well as legislation dealing with the state's natural resources such as minerals, air, water and land conservation. The committee also oversees Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Spivey's first priority is constituent services.
"Everything else will fall under that," he said, acknowledging a steep learning curve for his new job.
As a result, he said he will sponsor a few bills to get familiar with the process. One could be a bill to help increase efficiency of the comptroller's auditors. On that, he said, "I seem to be getting a lot of positive feedback."
Spivey is serving his first term. He represents District 92, which encompasses all of Marshall and portions of Lincoln, Franklin, and Marion counties.