New Jersey lawmakers yesterday advanced long-debated plans to allow beer and wine sales at grocery stores, but the bill's future is uncertain.

While 45 states allow such sales, New Jersey limits supermarket chains to two total liquor licenses. It also mandates the liquor be sold separately from groceries, usually in an adjoining store.

With support from major supermarket chains, the Senate Economic Growth Committee released legislation that would allow supermarkets to own more than two licenses and sell beer and wine. However, it did so with some senators still questioning its effect on smaller liquor stores.

- AP