Sen. Bill Ketron penned an op-ed in his local paper in which he describes legislation that attempts to both satisfy the majority of Tennesseans who want wine sales in grocery stores and placate those who are against the change: put the matter to a local referendum vote.
Here’s how it works: if you’re in a community that already allows either package stores or liquor-by-the-drink (or both), and you want your area to vote on whether to allow wine sales in retail food stores, first you have a petition hurdle to cross. The threshold Ketron lays out is 10 percent of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election. Then and only then would the matter be placed on the ballot in the next general election for voters to decide.
For example, in Hamilton County there were 87,281 votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election. As I understand it, if Ketron’s bill were to become law, a petition drive would need to successfully gather 8,728 valid signatures in order to include the referendum in the state’s next general election, which is on November 4, 2014. Then a simple majority could authorize the sales.
Question remaining: if citizens of a county were to approve the referendum, are all municipalities within that county’s borders opted-in automatically, or would each municipality be required to hold its own petition drive and vote?
Ketron’s bill and its House companion ostensibly stand a better chance in the upcoming session than ever before, since Rep. Matthew Hill, who effectively killed the bill earlier this year as part of an intra-caucus spat over a completely different piece of legislation, now indicates that he would support it.
The biggest news from the significantly redesigned 4th District is that the man considered the chief architect and beneficiary of the new map, Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, apparently doesn’t think he can “cut the mustard” and take down U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais. Ketron announced that he will not run for the GOP nomination after all.
Earlier, Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville also put to rest any speculation that he, too, might have been looking at the seat. (One knowledgeable commentator has asserted that Tracy never really had his eye on it.)
So does that leave DesJarlais with a clear path to re-election? Not so fast, says state Sen. Eric Stewart, a Democrat whose campaign is receiving a bit of national attention.
This one will be a race to watch. Provided no other well-armed candidate gets in, there could be a close battle between DesJarlais and Stewart. The gut sense is that the Republican prevails, but if Stewart plays the right cards and does it well (and has help from outside the district), there’s a chance he could retake the district for his party.
Stephen Shirley opines in the Daily News Journal that Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro may be rethinking his long-assumed plan to run for the newly redrawn Fourth Congressional District seat against incumbent and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Jasper.
The stars were aligned for DesJarlais to get a Republican primary challenger in the 2012 election. And Ketron spent much of 2011 positioning himself to be that challenger.
But here we sit, two weeks after the maps were released, and as of this writing, Ketron still hasn’t formally thrown his hat into the ring.
Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville had also been talked about as a potential challenger after redistricting, but has bowed out. Now it appears that Tracy was either clearing a path for Ketron or perhaps saw some of these same factors and decided not to risk it.
Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart is running, and, if he remains unopposed in his primary, will face the Republican nominee in November.
Weston Wamp, son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, plans to hold a significant fundraiser next month in support of his bid for the Republican nomination in the 3rd Distict. The younger Wamp hopes to take in a total in the same range that his main rival, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, recently raised at the Walden Club with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
That brings Wamp’s potential haul for the night to $245,000—before additional donations by any other attendees will have been made. While Wamp didn’t reveal any specific goals for the event, he said he hoped it would be the “jumping off point to a big 2012.”
Over in the 4th District, state Sen. Eric Stewart, a Democrat, has announced his intent to run against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais. Stewart currently represents the 14th Senate District, and was a Franklin County commissioner prior to running for state legislative office.
With redistricting still underway (or at least under wraps), it’s unclear whether DesJarlais will experience a major primary challenge, as had been speculated earlier in the year.
Republicans likely are looking for ways to make the 5th District more competitive, though no one has yet announced his or her candidacy.
January is going to be a busy month on this site and other political news outlets around the state.
After a first attempt to strengthen state anti-terrorism law was found wanting in its ability to pass constitutional muster, a new effort is making its way through the Legislature.
The second version by Sen. Bill Ketron actually does not contain the phrase “Shariah law,” but Muslim and civil liberties groups say it still unfairly targets a specific group. From the Tullahoma News:
While the amendment pacified some, many Muslims say they are still uncomfortable with the legislation.
One is Zak Mohyuddin from Tullahoma.
Although the specific references to Shariah law were removed, he said the underlying implications from the legislation stir great concern amid the Muslim community.
Mohyuddin said the revised bill being considered by the Legislature would give the Tennessee governor and the state attorney general the right to label whether a specific organization is terrorist.
He said the proposed law changes are ripe with political overtones, and having two high-ranking state officials make a determination that could lead to 15-year prison sentences for being linked to Shariah law is putting too much power in what could be a politically motivated decision-making process.
He explained that organizations in a similar situation could be labeled as terrorist by the governor and attorney general and not even know about it.
Meanwhile, visitors to the Capitol intent on speaking to the bill’s House co-sponsor, Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, were abruptly turned away from his office by state troopers, according to AP reports.