Oklahoma: Liquor law changes could be exactly one year away
By Rick Maranon
Oklahoma lawmakers are set to approve a constitutional amendment in 2016 that would allow for the sale of cold high-point beer in liquor, convenience and grocery stores, but the final specific language has not been determined yet.
The bill would also allow Oklahoma breweries to sell all of their products and not just low-point beer where they brew it instead of through a liquor store or retailer.
Any changes to Oklahoma’s liquor laws would require voter approval since the laws are written in the state constitution.
If voters approve the laws, the changes could take effect as early as January 1, 2017.
Implementation of the laws however could come in phases if approved instead of all at once.
The new year is expected to be one for the history books in Oklahoma when it comes to the state constitution and its restrictions over alcohol sales.
Liquor stores, local and national brewers, beer enthusiast and lobbyists, and even some lawmakers will make a heavy push this coming legislative session to get a change in liquors laws on the same ballot Oklahomans would use to vote for President of the United State in fall 2016.
FOX23 has reported throughout 2015 that a bill to allow for that vote was approved by the Oklahoma House and Oklahoma Senate, but the final language of the bill will be determined in conference committee in the 2016 legislative session.
“We’re going to push as hard as we can to get this passed,” said Steve Barker, manager or Primo’s Wine & Spirits in south Tulsa.
The change in laws would allow stores to sell cold high-point beer and wine, and the proposal would also allow Oklahoma brewers to sell their high-point products in their own breweries instead of requiring the sale to take place through a retailer or liquor store.
Those pushing for the bill are hoping that putting the law up for a vote during a Presidential election will increase voter turnout and the likelihood of its passage.
If approved, liquor stores could begin making preparations by installing refrigeration units in early winter of 2016, and come New Years’ Day 2017, cold craft and high-point beer and wine, in addition to the brewer sale changes, could take effect.
The proposals are also expected to bring in more revenue through the state’s liquor tax and by fostering an increase in a popular craze known as “beer tourism” where people travel around the country to different states to taste and purchase local craft beers where they are made.
A New Years’ Day 2017 implementation, though, could be delayed if the state decides to implement the new law in phases instead of all at once.
FOX23 will continue to follow the debate over a change in the state’s liquor laws throughout 2016. Stay with us for updates.