EDITORIAL: Ketron wine bills worthy of passage
February 3, 2009
State Sen. Bill Ketron is reviving legislation that would loosen Tennessee’s archaic laws on the sale of wine and give wineries a chance to deal in cyberspace.
One bill being sponsored by the Murfreesboro Republican would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores, removing the restriction that limits it to package liquor stores in Tennessee.
Ketron sees no reason Tennesseans shouldn’t be able to pick up a bottle of red at the same time they’re buying milk, bread and eggs at the
grocery store. We don’t either — at least not a good one.
Tennessee’s liquor lobbyists and retailers are opposed to the legislation because they don’t want to lose the monopoly they have on the sale of wine. Part of their argument is that mom-and-pop liquor stores will be put out of business or forced to lay off workers.
That argument can’t be substantiated, though, because liquor stores across the nation are thriving in states where wine can be sold in grocery stores.
Another bill being backed by Ketron would allow wineries to ship wine by order from their vineyards, largely through purchases made over the Internet.
Reversing this restriction could bolster wineries across Tennessee, including Arrington Vineyards just west of Rutherford County.
Ketron has said he is sponsoring these bills because his constituents want change, especially as more people move to Tennessee from states where wine sales are legal in grocery stores.
We understand that liquor stores have to meet some strange and strict rules to stay in business. Maybe it’s time all laws regarding alcoholic beverages were reviewed.
In the meantime, the state Legislature should remove the prohibition on wine in grocery stores and allow wineries to sell by mail order. Leaving these laws in place does nothing but hurt businesses across Tennessee.
Whether it’s grandstanding or an attempt to get at the root of illegal immigration, Sen. Bill Ketron’s bill requiring driver’s license tests
to be given in English won’t solve any problems.
Tennessee has bigger problems to solve during this session of the General Assembly than placing restrictions on non-English speaking people, and Ketron should consider removing his bill.
Nashville’s English-only measure, which would have removed all foreign languages from Metro government business, cast the city as unfriendly to immigrants. As it turned out, the referendum failed and most of the funding for the English-only drive came from an out-of-state group.
Ketron might be able to find more sentiment statewide for English-only driver’s license tests, the written portions of which can now be
administered in Japanese, Korean and Spanish. But such a measure would only punish people; it wouldn’t force them to return to their native countries.
Besides, driver’s license applicants are now required to respond to instructions in English and follow road signs when taking the driving test. They can take the written test in one of seven languages.
If Ketron wants to fight illegal immigration, he should make sure businesses are punished for hiring illegal immigrants and that our congressional delegation continues to push tougher border and deportation enforcement.
Restricting language for driver’s license tests is nothing but a meaningless gesture to drum up political support.