Alcohol sales reform bill

The full Senate has approved a measure allowing Oklahomans to decide whether to modernize state laws on beer and wine sales.

Senate Joint Resolution 68, by Sen. Clark Jolley and co-authored by Sen. Stephanie Bice, would let voters make the constitutional changes to allow the sale of wine and strong beer in grocery stores.

“This is the culmination of months of meetings with all the stakeholders. We’ve had a lot of hard conversations with everyone involved,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “The very nature of most complex issues is that no one person or entity will get everything exactly the way they want it. But Oklahomans from across the state are frustrated with outdated laws on beer and wine sales. Our goal is to make sure it is a comprehensive approach, addressing the changes needed in both the constitution and in the statutes.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman is also a co-author of SJR 68.

“This bill gives Oklahomans what they have sought for years: the opportunity to modernize our state’s alcohol laws and bring us in line with practically all other states. If approved by the voters, this measure introduces more options and choice for consumers and will spur growth and economic development in the industry.”

While SJR 68 would allow voters to make the constitutional changes necessary, Bice is principal author of Senate Bill 383, co-authored by Jolley, which would make the statutory changes needed to modernize Oklahoma laws on beer and wine sales.

“Compromise does not come easily, but Oklahoma citizens have spoken loud and clear. They’re tired of living under laws they see as a throw-back to prohibition, something that ended in our state nearly 57 years ago—they want the same consumer choices people in most other states already enjoy,” said Bice, R- Oklahoma City. “Combined, SJR 68 and SB 383 will help us thoroughly address all the changes necessary to make sure that happens.”

Eric James, senior director of sales and marketing for Anheuser-Busch sales of Oklahoma, said, “We have always supported modernization, but not at the cost of our business and jobs in Oklahoma.

“We are pleased that the current legislation allows us to maintain our operations and employees in Oklahoma, while giving Oklahoma beer drinkers what they are looking for – cold, strong beer through a distribution system that provides both quality and convenience. We look forward to continue working closely with all parties to ensure true modernization is achieved for the Oklahoma consumer.”