OKLAHOMA CITY - Lawmakers want to give voters in each county the choice whether to open their liquor stores on Sundays.
If it becomes law, each county would be able to ask its voters to weigh in on opening liquor stores on Sundays.
The Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association and a number of local stores are supporting the measure, calling it a way to increase consumer convenience.
"I think the only way for the small business owner, liquor store owner to be competitive would be to be able to be allowed to sell on Sundays," said Idali Tilley of Sean's Wine & Spirits, knowing grocery stores will soon be able to sell high-point beer and wine. "It kind of leaves us at a disadvantage if we're not able to sell on Sundays, as well."
Grocery stores will begin stocking their shelves in fall 2018.
Tilley said she's excited to see the effects of the changing laws and knows there will be demand if the store is able to stay open seven days a week.
"When you own your own business, there's really not a day of rest," she said. "We come in often to do ordering, getting ready for the next week on a Sunday, and I can't tell you how many people still come and try to open up the door on a Sunday."
The Retail Liquor Association likes its customers will get a more convenient experience.
Bryan Kerr of the RLA also thinks Sunday sales will decrease alcohol-related incidents on the weekends, since people won't need to stock up on Saturdays.
At Byron's Liquor Warehouse, customers are excited about the possibility, said General Manager Blake Cody.
But, as a businessman, he's worried about the consequences.
"You hope that people will come out, and you hope there will be an increase in sales and profits," he said. "But, really, what it's going to do is divide the business from Friday/Saturday into three days Friday/Saturday/Sunday while keeping operation costs up. You still have to pay staff, keep the lights on for everybody here, so it will definitely drive up the costs for business owners."
The bill unanimously passed out of committee Thursday morning.
The full Senate will consider it next.
Should it become law, it will be up to each county to put the issue on the ballot.
Bice said it is important to put the decisions in the hands of local communities.
Sunday sales would go into effect with State Question 792 in fall 2018.