Senate debate included wine in grocery stores

Friday, October 15, 2010

The biggest tit-for-tat in the state Senate race of interest to Marshall County voters boils down to allegations of misuse of money and the Internet, but other differences emerged during a debate last month between Sen. Bill Ketron and his rival, Columbia Councilman Debbie Matthews.

She would vote against permitting the sale of wine in grocery stores, partly because it would result in nearly 2,000 people losing their jobs, and profits from the sale of wine in big chain grocery stores would go to out-of-state corporations instead of Tennesseans who own and operate a liquor store - rarely more than one.

Furthermore, Matthews said Ketron "passed a law" on whether a brewery could open in your county. "He and I have different ideas on where alcohol can be made or sold," she said.

The incumbent senator explained that he "introduced and carried" a bill for two years that would allow the sale of wine in groceries, a practice permitted in other states.

It would appear that the change could result in an increase of $17.5 million in recurring revenue, Ketron said. However, he knows that some small retail liquor stores feel they would lose business.

"I haven't said I'd vote for it," Ketron said. He sponsored the legislation "just to get the parties together" to negotiate the issue.

As for the two big conflicts arising from the senate race, Ketron has sued Matthews in Maury County Chancery Court alleging identity theft. He obtained a temporary restraining order and a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25 in Columbia. It would appear that Matthews' campaign used a free e-mail address using Ketron's first and last name as the user ID. The body of the message, however, lists Matthews as the sender. Contributions were sought.

Meanwhile, Matthews says Ketron has received $65,000 in $185-per-diem payments available to lawmakers who must spend a night in Nashville instead of driving home at night. Ketron's home is about 50 miles from Legislative Plaza, in Murfreesboro.

He's said that practice of accepting payment for meals and lodging that's not used is legal while her misuse of the Internet is a crime.

Both issues were asserted and refuted during a debate between the two candidates at Columbia State Community College on Sept. 29.

Ketron faces Matthews again Monday during a debate in the Lecture Hall of Marshall County High School. The debate starts at 5:30 p.m.