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Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approve measure to modernize liquor laws

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Liquor store shelves, Cropped Photo: shankar s. / CC BY 2.0

OKLAHOMA CITY – It was a bill that supporters said would take a step to modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws.

State Question 792 would allow wine and full-strength beer to be sold in grocery stores and convenience stores. Opponents of the bill said liquor stores saturate the market already and adding grocery and convenience stores to the mix will create unfair competition.

“What we’re concerned about is unfair competition, and what SQ792 does is it gives grocery stores and convenience stores and drugstores an unfair advantage in the marketplace. It allows them to sell at many more locations, many more hours and has looser restrictions that what we suffer in the retail liquor business,” said Retail Liquor Association President Bryan Kerr.

However, supporters say Oklahoma’s liquor laws haven’t been updated in nearly 60 years and it is time for a change.

“You keep hearing over and over the liquor store’s association is talking about Walmart and QT and big business, but I think they’re forgetting that there are several thousand small, independent grocery and convenience stores across Oklahoma that are actually really excited to see this legislation pass,” Sen. Stephanie Bice said.

The proposal also gives liquor stores permission to sell ice and mixers. If passed, the measure would go into effect in 2018.

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly supported the measure.

“Today’s passage of SQ 792 is a huge step forward for Oklahomans who have been demanding common sense laws regarding access to beer. The Oklahoma Beer Alliance and its members believe SQ 792 will help grow the state’s beer industry and provide increased quality and convenience. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders, member businesses and legislators on implementation of a modernization system that will benefit consumers, businesses, and the state economy,” said Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance.

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