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Oklahomans One Step Closer to Vote for Alcohol Sales in Supermarkets

22-Apr-2016

For a long time, Oklahoma has had some of the nation's strictest laws pertaining the sale of alcohol. Only low-point beer could be sold in grocery stores and supermarkets, and there are stringent guidelines regarding what can be sold in liquor stores, whether or not regular strength beer can be sold refrigerated, and how wine can be imported into the state.

Now, Oklahomans are one step closer on having a chance to vote for beer and liquor sales in grocery stores and supermarkets. 

Senate Joint Resolution 68, which passed the Senate in March by a vote of 28-16, has now passed the House of Representatives. Yesterday, the House approved SJR 68 by a vote of 61-30.

But the measure isn't ready for voters yet. It still must be considered further by conference, and the state must pass companion legislation for the implementation of the law, if passed. But with both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature approving Senate Joint Resolution 68, it seems likely that voters will see the proposal on the ballot in November.

Many Oklahomans are ready for the change. Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, co-authored the measure. He says that Oklahoma adults are looking for the convenience of picking up beer or wine as they do their regular grocery shopping, and not having to make a separates stop. Mulready says of the measure, "Forty-two other states allow the purchase of full-strength beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores, and the option to purchase it cold. This bill puts our laws more in line with the rest of the nation."

Critics of the bill say it could lead to greater rates of alcoholism, drunk driving, and teen alcohol abuse. Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, opposed the measure, saying, "Do we not have enough drunk drivers who cause deaths and injuries?" Cleveland asked. "Do we not have enough alcoholics in the state? Do we not have enough broken homes caused by alcohol? Do we want 6-point beer and wine on every corner in the state of Oklahoma? If you want beer and wine, go to the liquor store, but let's not open the gate to tempting young adults."

His concern doesn't seem to be supported by statistics. For example, New Jersey was named among the top 10 states for underage drinking, yet its laws strictly limit the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores, so one can seldom find alcohol in grocery stores in that state. Wyoming, which is ranked 5th in underage drinking, does not allow the sale of beer, wine, or liquor in grocery stores--like the current law in Oklahoma.

Whether or not you support the sale of regular strength beer and wine in Oklahoma grocery stores and supermarkets, you will likely be able to cast your vote for or against the measure in Oklahoma. 



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