OKLAHOMA CITY — With less than two months left in the Legislative session, lawmakers in the Oklahoma House of Representatives will soon be voting on a flurry of bills that would further update the state’s alcohol laws. Modernize Oklahoma, a group supporting consumer choice and local businesses, is encouraging legislators to vote “yes” on these proposals and continue the push to end prohibition era rules and regulations.
Modernize Oklahoma Executive Director Alex Weintz said his organization was originally formed to promote State Question 792, the successful initiative petition to allow the sale of cold, regular strength beer and wine in grocery stores, liquor stores and convenience stores beginning in October 2018. After the law’s passage, however, it became clear that several smaller reforms would be needed to ensure a level playing field for alcohol vendors, support consumer choice, and ensure the implementation of SQ 792 went smoothly.
“When State Question 792 passed by a margin of two to one, the people of Oklahoma spoke very clearly,” said Weintz. “We want modern laws that support consumer choice and help local businesses to thrive. To keep the state moving in that direction, Modernize Oklahoma is working to support several legislative items that help level the competitive playing field within the industry, support continued job growth, and reduce unnecessary regulations that inconvenience responsible, adult consumers.”
Modernize Oklahoma is working to support each of the legislative goals below. (Note: All of the bills below have passed in the state Senate and are awaiting action in the Oklahoma House of Representatives)
Leveling the playing field for locally owned liquor stores
SB 174: Allowing both spouses to own two liquor stores
- SQ 792 raised the limit for liquor store ownership from one to two stores beginning in October 2018. SB 174 clarifies that both spouses may own two liquor stores (four per couple).
SB 211: Allowing a county option for Sunday sales (12 PM – 12 AM) in liquor stores.
- Beginning in November 2018, grocery stores and convenience stores can sell cold, regular strength beer and wine on Sundays while liquor stores cannot, leaving liquor stores at a competitive disadvantage. SB 211 potentially levels the playing field by giving counties the option of allowing Sunday sales at liquor stores. A countywide vote on Sunday sales would be triggered either by a successful initiative petition or the support of a majority of county commissioners.
Supporting local wineries and breweries
SB 297: Clarifying the rights of local wineries
- SB 297 eliminates ambiguity surrounding the rights of local wineries. It clarifies the Legislature’s intent that 1) wineries can give away limited free samples of wine 2) wineries can sell wine by the glass.
SB 411: Expanded hours of operation for local breweries and liquor stores
- Currently, Oklahoma breweries can only remain open between the hours of noon and 9 PM. SB 411 allows these breweries the same operating hours as bars: 10 AM – 2 AM. It allows liquor stores to be open from 8 AM to midnight and grocery/convenience stores to sell cold, regular strength beer and wine from 6 AM to 2 AM.
Ensuring successful implementation of State Question 792
SB 646: Updates licensing laws to support implementation of SQ 792
- SB 646 allows the ABLE commission to issue interim licenses to beer, wine and liquor distributors to support the transition to single strength beer under State Question 792. SB 646 is vital to assuring successful implementation of SQ 792 by the October 2018 implementation date.
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