OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation allowing accompanied minors in liquor stores has been signed into law.
House Bill 2325 would allow minors under 21 into liquor stores if they were accompanied by a parent or legal guardian of age.
"There is somewhat of a competitive disadvantage currently with packaged stores in that I can take my 14-year-old to the grocery store, and I could walk by a wine display and I could purchase a bottle of wine with her standing three feet from me," Sen. Stephanie Bice said. "I could also walk down the refrigerated beer aisle and I could purchase a 6-pack should I choose to with her standing next to me, but she is not allowed to enter a retailed spirits establishment currently."
Moore Liquor store owner Bryan Kerr told News 4 that it's a problem customers with children run into often.
"If they have their child, they have two options. They can either not come into a liquor store, or they could leave their kid in a car which, if their kid is under a certain age, is illegal to do that so then they have zero options other than breaking the law," Kerr said. "Of course, it dates back to those archaic laws that we updated, but we left this little part out to be updated. We were campaigning to get it done, those of us in the business, it just didn’t get into the legislation for the overhaul."
Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow, asked if the bill would cause unintended consequences by "prematurely glamorizing hard alcohol" to minors.
Bice answered she did not share that concern after researching alcohol modernization laws.
"There were actually studies that showed that exposure to responsible consumption and/or purchases as we discussed putting wine and strong beer in grocery stores actually de-stigmatized those products to a young person," she said.
Kerr, who also serves as president of the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma, said some liquor stores have seen a 40 percent drop in customers since October when State Question 792 went into effect. It removed the distinction between low-point 3.2 percent alcohol beer and "strong" beer, allowing stores to sell refrigerated "strong" beer.
On Tuesday, Gov. Stitt signed House Bill 2325 into law.