Roll Out the Red Tape for Tennessee Retail Liquor and Grocery Stores: Background Checks Now Mandatory

Anyone that has applied for a liquor license for a grocery or retail liquor store in Tennessee understands red tape. We purchase the stuff by the truckload around here. We seem to consume more red tape than oxygen and bourbon – combined.

Starting July 1, 2017, applications for Certificate of Compliance in Tennessee must be filed with national and local background checks. The new Tennessee law requires that:

Each applicant or officer … must obtain and submit with the certificate a local and national criminal history record obtained from a third party using a multistate criminal records locator or similar nationwide database with validation.

The background checks are to prove that the applicant or officer has not been convicted of felony in the last 10 years. Read the full text here PC 357.

Problem is, seems only a handful of folks in Tennessee know about the new requirement. We are advising liquor and food store owners to submit the background checks, even if the city says they are not required. It is, after all, state law.

Questions abound.

Who is required to submit the background checks? Certainly not every corporate officer of a publicly traded company. Do we just pick the people? If so, seems to be a great way to hide your favorite felon.

What is a local background check? For that matter, what is a “national criminal history record?”

We recommend satisfying the local requirement by filing a TBI background check. TBI checks cost $29, can be run online and do not require fingerprints. Results are back in days, if not hours. Start the process here. We can see some cities requiring their own police or other “local” background checks.

National background checks require a little more effort. We had to become qualified to pull them.

Plan in advance. At this juncture, no one knows what each city will want.

The new requirement could be a train wreck for unsuspecting liquor store owners and grocers looking to renew. Certificates of Compliance must be renewed every two years. The weeks leading up to July 1, 2018 will be particularly hectic, with several hundred certificates coming due on the two year anniversary of WIGS – Wine In Grocery Stores.

Not sure why, but we find ourselves humming the Grateful Dead train crash tune:

Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones you better watch your speed
Trouble ahead, trouble behind
And you know that notion just crossed my mind

We hope the kinks are resolved long before 2018.

Original author: William T. Cheek III
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