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Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008 8:51 pm
By: AP

  

The following is a roundup of recent editorials from Tennessee members of The Associated Press. In some cases, the editorials have been edited for length. They do not reflect an editorial position of the AP but represent the opinions of the newspapers from which they are taken.

The Tennessean, Nashville; Nov. 25

While the election of Barack Obama as president provided the show of shows this year, congressional races have provided high drama, as well.

It is understandable, perhaps, that the electorate was not as enthused over the makeup of the House and Senate. After all, lawmakers have logged even lower approval ratings than President Bush. …

The outgoing 110th Congress disappointed voters who called for change in 2006. Democratic leaders, however well-intentioned, lacked the savvy needed to achieve meaningful legislation with bare majorities. And when a significant bill was pushed through, it fell to Bush’s veto or a veto threat.

Democrats’ ability this year to widen their majorities in both the House and Senate should mean that more will get done when the 111th Congress convenes.

One need only consider the status of economic-stimulus legislation to see the potential. A broad package of mortgage assistance, infrastructure projects and unemployment benefit extensions has been stuck for weeks in the 110th Congress. Only after alarming job-loss numbers emerged last week did the White House agree to the benefits extension — with the other provisions stripped out. …

Congress’ inaction can’t all be laid at Bush’s feet. Under the chairmanship of Michigan Democrat John Dingell, the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee often has stood in the way of positive change on environmental and communications issues. …

Dingell, for example, sided with Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency to oppose California’s request for a federal waiver so the state could impose more stringent pollution controls on cars, and supported boosting the FCC’s ability to censor broadcasters.

But in a surprise move, House members last week voted Dingell out of the chairmanship, replacing him with Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Waxman is viewed as a champion of environmental and free speech issues who will push Obama’s energy and health-care initiatives. …

Now, it is up to the legislative branch to heed the call of the president-elect and the millions who voted for him: End the gridlock in Washington and show strong leadership, by getting the economy on track, making the nation more secure, fighting climate change, and making health care available and more affordable.

2009 should be a busy year.

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On the Net: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20081125/OPINION01/811250355/1008

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The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro; Nov. 24

State Sen. Bill Ketron plans to continue pushing a bill that would enable consumers to pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store, just as they can in states across America.

The Murfreesboro Republican believes Tennesseans should be able to shop for wine at their favorite grocery store the same as they can buy a six-pack of beer or a gallon of milk.

We agree.

Ketron sponsored bills last year that would have rewritten Tennessee’s wine sales laws that restrict their sales to liquor stores. Both of those died in a committee and never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.

They should be revived this year and approved, bringing Tennessee’s wine and liquor laws out of the Dark Ages and into line with the rest of the country’s regulations.

The state’s liquor lobby, historically one of Capitol Hill’s strongest groups, has found a way to keep pushing this issue into a black hole. It is time to end that monopoly, simply because it makes no sense to confine wine sales to liquor stores. … The liquor lobby argues that allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores will drive small liquor store owners out of business, or at the very least force them to lay off workers.

Grocers and wine dealers say there is no basis for such a claim and that by moving wine sales out of the exclusivity of liquor stores, overall wine sales and state sales tax revenues will increase dramatically. …

From a consumer standpoint, it would simplify wine sales, enabling people to pick up a bottle of red at the same time they’re buying bread and milk. …

Ketron noted in an article last week that he is backing this measure because his constituents want it, and they let him know by the thousands. As more people move here from out of state, they expect the same types of conveniences they enjoyed elsewhere. …

Liquor store owners in Tennessee certainly have to meet some strict rules to stay in business, but it’s time for the liquor industry to give up its control over wine sales.

This is not a moral question, because there’s nothing immoral about enjoying a glass of wine with supper. This is all about who gets to count the money, and it’s time for Tennessee retailers to start sharing some of the wealth.

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On the Net: http://www.dnj.com/article/20081124/OPINION01/811240312/1016

Published in The Messenger 11.28.08

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