Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our State Legislature At Work

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:25 AM

click to enlarge state_20legislature.jpg
Unlike Jeff and Liz, I'm a bit naïve in the slippery ways of our state legislature. So count me as the lone member of your Pith crew who was surprised that the legislature effectively killed two bills that would have made it less onerous to purchase a bottle of wine. I know what you're thinking: Enough already. It's not the end of the world if you have to hit an independently owned wine shop after visiting a chain grocery store. But there's a broader point here. If the wine—and—spirits lobby has such a stranglehold on the legislature that a bill allowing for wine sales at grocery stores withered and died in less than a month, what chance does any legislation have that might affect an entrenched special interest? Maybe you don't care where you buy your wine. But what if you want more alternatives to long-term care besides decrepit tinderbox nursing homes? You're SOL there too. Does this work for you? Also yesterday, members of the Tennessee Ethics Commission didn't see anything unethical about Seigenthaler Public Relations publishing an anti-drinking website as a front for their clients in the alcohol industry. The site marshalled opposition to the wine legislation by leading a Reefer Madness-style assault on the evils of teen drinking, as if otherwise sober 17-year-olds were just waiting by their laptops to order merlot from Amazon.com. But the ethics commission didn't think this counted as lobbying. Whatever they're drinking, send us a bottle. From an independent authorized retailer, of course.

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