Oklahoma: Proposal to let voters decide on sales of cold, strong beer and wine in regular stores comes down to House vote
Source: Tulsa World
May 24, 2016
A measure aimed at letting voters decide whether to modernize the state’s alcohol laws cleared yet another legislative hurdle Monday.
The Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 68 by a vote of 30-14.
The resolution moves to the House for final consideration. It does not require the signature of Gov. Mary Fallin.
The measure would let Oklahomans decide whether cold, strong beer and wine should be sold in grocery and convenience stores.
Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Edmond, said she was ecstatic the measure passed. She has been working on the issue for 15 months.
“We are one House vote away from this being on the ballot in November,” she said.
The general public has been frustrated with some of the measures that have been passed this legislative session, Bice said, but this resolution is something the public strongly supports.
She said it is imperative that the public reach out to House members and let them know they want to vote on the measure in November.
Bice said it would become effective in October 2018 if approved by voters.
“We’re one step closer to allowing Oklahomans to vote on a modern beer and wine law this November,” said Tyler Moore with Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom. “The widespread support from today’s vote confirms our polling, which shows the majority of Oklahomans want increased choice and convenience when it comes to beer and wine.”
A companion measure, Senate Bill 383, is a 280-page bill that sets the statutory framework for alcohol law modernization.
For the first time since 1984, residents are one step away from the chance to vote to modernize the state’s alcohol laws. In that year, voters approved making it legal to buy a drink in a bar or restaurant, although that prohibition had been widely ignored.
Brett Robinson, president of the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma, said the current process has been lengthy and detailed.
“Senate Joint Resolution 68 is a broad-based, responsible modernization initiative that, if approved by voters, will update Oklahoma’s alcohol beverage laws in an equitable, safe and reasonable manner while protecting the proven independent distribution system,” Robinson said. “In addition, it will bring added tax revenue to the state treasury while providing expanded consumer choice and convenience, including within Oklahoma’s burgeoning craft beer segment.”
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 424, by Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa. The measure would allow craft brewers to sell their products on premises, much like wineries do now in selling products from vineyards, Crain said.