pic by vancitybuzz.com
Just like the strong Spring wind currently rattling the windows, change is blowing in or rather brewing. This change has been talked about, proposed, and argued over for a long time.
Come November, Oklahoman’s will possibly be given the chance to amend the constitution and take steps toward modernizing our liquor laws. Two legislative bills, SJR68 and SB383, have been proposed to allow grocery and convenience store to sell stronger beer, eliminating 3.2 beer, and wine. Locally-owned liquor stores will be allowed to sell refrigerated beer as well as accessories associated with alcohol. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Oklahoma is attempting to clear away some crazy liquor laws. However, with any change there are always bumps along the way.
I fully support the modernization of our liquor laws but I’m torn between the two groups proposals: one are the legislators behind the bill pushing to modernize and eliminate archaic laws and the other is the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma (RLAO) representing our local wine shop.
The RLAO wants to modernize the laws, too, for it would be in their best interest. But they feel the law favors large out-of-state retail conglomerates such as Walmart, QuikTrip, etc. who will put locally owned wine shops out of business. The Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association (RLAO) filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Secretary of State to put a question on the ballot in November to allow full-strength beer in grocery stores and convenience stores, but virtually eliminate grocery stores’ ability to obtain wine licenses. In addition, wine would not be sold in convenience stores under their proposal.
Here’s RLAO’s State Question #785:
“Our petition is pro-consumer, pro-public safety and pro-small business. Highlights include:
* Cold, strong beer sold in every outlet that currently sells any strength of beer, including grocery and convenience stores.
* Grocery store wine licenses to allow both locally-owned and chain grocery stores to sell wine.
* Oklahoma breweries could distribute their products directly to Oklahoma retail package stores.
* Oklahoma breweries could serve and sell their product at their own facilities, regardless of ABV.
* Liquor stores could hold tastings inside their store.
* Retail package stores could sell any and all items sold in a grocery store with some restriction.
* Licensing fees from those businesses who choose to sell alcohol would go directly into state agencies whose primary purpose it is to reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths in Oklahoma.
* There must be at least 2500 feet between two outlets selling spirits or wine; existing stores grandfathered in.
It also allows the people of Oklahoma, through their legislators, to set the days and hours of operation for retail package stores but only specifically prohibits the sale of spirits on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. We wrote this State Question taking into account consumer demand for convenience along with consumer concern for safety. We feel it is a good balance and that Oklahomans will be more likely than not to vote in favor of it at the ballot box this November.”
Are wine-tastings coming to my local liquor store? (I hope!) Will large grocery conglomerates put my beloved wine shop out of business? Will wine and beer cost more? Can Senators who’ve written the bill and the RLAO find a commonsense compromise? Will Oklahoma move into the 21st century?
So what do you think? Should Oklahoma open the door wide with full-on enthusiasm and let everyone have a license to sell? Or should limitations be put in place with only those currently selling 3.2 beer able to sell full-strength but nothing else? Honestly, they both sound reasonable but what’s the best way to step into the modern age?
Well stay tuned! Like this current election year we find ourselves living in, it should be one wild ride. The legal jargon alone is enough to give me a headache, however, I’m determined to hang in there and see if we take the steps necessary to modernize. (I’m applying for my Costco membership right after I post this. JUST KIDDING! We don’t even have a Costco. But we might someday . . . )
Well, happy Wine Wednesday and three cheers to change!