Liberal liquor laws are still months away

The good news for Oklahomans who want more access to alcohol is that State Question 792 – which liberalized the state’s liquor laws – passed easily on November 8.

The bad news is that the new laws won’t take effect until October 1, 2018.

And the Oklahoma Legislative will have a chance to tinker with those new liquor laws in the upcoming 2017 session.

The Legislature has already passed Senate Bill 383, which is enabling legislation for the new liquor laws. The nearly two-delay was built in so that Oklahoma’s 18 remaining “dry” counties – if those decide to – could amend their laws to allow for the expanded sale of liquor.

There are still issues to be resolved, including whether liquor can be sold on Sundays, do minors need to be accompanied in stores that sell liquor, what hours are permissible for liquor sales and other unintended consequences of the new laws.

SQ792 will let retailers like QuikTrip, Wal-Mart and Reasors sell refrigerated wine and hard beer. At present, they can only sell beer with 3.2 percent alcohol content. And because of the approval of SQ792 and similar moves in other states, some national breweries may stop producing 3.2 beer all together as Americans and Oklahomans drink more hard beer from an increasing number of outlets.

If 3.2 beer does stop being brewed, QuikTrip may not have any beer at all to sell in its Kansas stores, which still prohibits the sale of hard beer and wine in convenience stores.

SQ792 forms three types of liquor licenses for retailers, one for wine, one for beer and one for spirits. The availability of strong beer and wine is expected to skyrocket in Tulsa.

Oklahoma’s Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission is seeking increased funding from the Legislature because of an anticipated upturn in thousands of requests for liquor licenses and the need for enforcement of laws against sales to minors, etc.