State Sen. Andrew Rice has introduced legislation that could eventually allow grocery stores in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties to sell wine and chilled, high-point beer.
Rice, an Oklahoma City Democrat, pictured right, calls it an economic development issue, and he’s right. It’s way past time for the two largest counties in Oklahoma to discard the state’s archaic and prudish liquor laws and make it more convenient for shoppers to purchase wine and beer.
Changing the current laws would almost certainly lead to new and/or expanded grocery stores in downtown Oklahoma City. This would attract even more people to live in the downtown area, which then leads to more development.
Senate Joint Resolution 62 would allow voters to decide the issue. Here is how the proposition might appear on the ballot, according to the bill, which can be found on the Oklahoma Legislature web site:
This measure amends Section 4 of Article 28 of the State Constitution. Right now, only a liquor store can sell liquor. A winery can sell the wine it makes. Liquor stores cannot sell other items unless it is separated by walls. This measure does not change that law. This measure allows a food market to sell wine and beer. The food market must be located in a county of three hundred thousand (300,000) persons, and have food sales of eighty percent (80%) or more of its total sales. A food market is a store that sells all types of foods and other items to the public. This measure allows a food market to sell wine and beer with other merchandise. It also allows the public to enter the food market that sells wine and beer.
Rice has also introduced Senate Bill 2205 that would establish the licensing requirements for liquor sales at grocery stores.
The legislation will be considered by the Senate Business and Labor Committee at 2 p.m. Monday, according to Rice, who is urging Oklahomans to contact their legislators to let them know they support it.
Will liquor store retailers and the religious right oppose the bill? It remains to be seen. But nothing will happen unless this issue is debated openly and people speak up for rational and modern liquor laws in this state.