Oklahomans will decide on Nov. 8 whether to liberalize state alcohol laws and allow sales of wine and full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores.
But if State Question 792 passes, the drama won’t come to an end. Brad Gibson of Oklahoma Watch reports the lines have been drawn between liquor stores and big retail chains, and more battles are in store.
Other details would need to be worked out in the Legislature and by regulators, and opponents of SQ 792 have all but promised to sue over the measure’s constitutionality if it passes. If the proposal is shot down at the polls or in court, efforts to increase availability of wine and strong beer would likely continue.
A series of Q&As, radio reports and forums about Nov. 8 state questions is made possible by a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
SQ 792 would bring some of the biggest changes to Oklahoma’s alcohol laws since repeal of prohibition in 1959. Supporters say giving consumers wider access to wine and refrigerated high-point beer would benefit Oklahoma’s economy, improve its image nationally and lower prices by increasing competition. Retail liquor store owners say the changes, while allowing them to remain the sole retailers of spirits, would still put many of them out of business and lead to higher prices by monopolizing distribution.
The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma wants initial restrictions and a longer phase-in time on sales of wine and strong beer in grocery and convenience stores. Under SQ 792, all changes would take effect in October 2018.