Alcohol reform advances on 2 fronts

A group called Oklahomans for Modern Laws has filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Secretary of State for a vote of the people to let grocery and convenience stores sell cold, strong beer and wine.

If the request clears a protest period, supporters would have 90 days to collect 123,725 signatures to get it on the ballot.

Brian Howe, director of Oklahomans for Modern Laws, said the measure would allow the direct shipment of wine and result in additional outlets for craft beer sellers.

Some lawmakers think reform is better served through the Legislature rather than a public vote.

“Oklahoma’s alcohol laws are complex and impact a range of areas involving a variety of businesses,” said Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City. “In order to be successful in modernizing our laws, all those entities must be a part of the discussions so that we ultimately bring forward measures that will be comprehensive, thorough and enable us to bring this modernization to fruition.  That’s why the legislative process we’re utilizing gives the greatest chance for success, and we are actively continuing to develop our proposals, both constitutionally and statutorily.”

“Polling data, feedback from the public and media interest all point to the fact that the majority of Oklahomans feel modernization of our laws is overdue,” said Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. “That’s why it is critical to get it right, and that means addressing all the aspects involved in the current system as we move to a modern one. You can’t just address one aspect of these laws – we have to address the entire structure and that’s what we’re doing through SB 383 and SJR 68.   I believe working through the legislative process gives us the best shot of making modernization a reality.”