Oklahoma: Anheuser-Busch warms up to Oklahoma liquor reforms proposal

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Oklahoma: Anheuser-Busch warms up to Oklahoma liquor reforms proposal

 

Source: News OK

Brianna Bailey

February 29, 2016

 

Anheuser-Busch has reached a deal with Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, that would allow the company to keep its distribution business in the state if the lawmaker’s proposed state question on alcohol reforms passes.

 

Anheuser-Busch had been a vocal opponent of Senate Joint Resolution 68, which Jolley hopes to get on the statewide ballot on November.

 

Anheuser-Busch took out full-page newspaper advertisements and also purchased local television spots to oppose SJR 68, using the slogan #StopClark.

 

Among other reforms in the measure, SJR 68 would have forced Anheuser-Busch to sell its distribution business within five years.

 

The measure would ban common ownership between alcohol manufacturing, wholesale and retail operations in the state. But under a deal reached Monday, Anheuser-Busch would still be allowed to keep its distribution businesses in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

 

Eric James, senior director of sales and marketing for Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma, said the deal would allow the company to maintain its Oklahoma business, which employs about 700 people.

 

“Not being forced to sell our business is something that allows us to continue to work with stakeholders and the Legislature to help with modernization and give consumer what they are looking for,” James said.

 

Anheuser-Busch supports the sale of cold, full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores, he said.

 

Under the deal reached with Anheuser-Busch, the Legislature would still would be able to revisit the issue in two years in order to force Anheuser-Busch to sell its distribution business in the state in one to three years if SJR 68 is approved by voters in November in the form of a state question.

 

Jolley said he is glad he was able to reach an agreement that also satisfied craft brewers, distributors and independent wholesalers in the state.

 

“It’s been a lot of hard work over the last several months,” Jolley said.

 

“We’ve been working with all the parties for several months on this issue. It’s amazing that once you start having legislation filed and deadlines how you can reach an agreement.”