Gov. Fallin signs modernization bills

Supporters of modern alcohol laws are celebrating a successful legislative session as Governor Mary Fallin signed another key bill late Wednesday (5/31) afternoon. Senate Bill 646 allows the ABLE commission to issue interim beer distribution licenses to support the transition to single strength beer that voters approved through State Question 792.

The bill is just the latest in a long list of measures recently signed into law that expand hours of operation for breweries, allow counties the option to permit Sunday sale of liquor, and support the right of local wineries to sell samples of their product on location. 

Another measure (HB 2186) that allows the sale of alcohol in movie theaters has been sent to the governor’s desk but not yet signed.

Modernize Oklahoma Executive Director Alex Weintz said lawmakers were responding to requests from their constituents.

“Oklahomans want modern laws that promote consumer convenience and job growth,” Weintz said. “They have sent that message loud and clear to their lawmakers, and their lawmakers are listening. Legislators like Sen. Stephanie Bice have done a great job of getting these modernization proposals through the Legislature and to the governor’s desk, and we appreciate the hard work they have put into this process.”

Weintz said that, moving forward, modernization advocates will focus on the successful implementation of SQ 792, which hinges on the Alcoholic Beverage License Enforcement (ABLE) Commission’s ability to adapt to a rapidly changing licensing environment.

“All of the grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in the state of Oklahoma are going to need new alcoholic beverage licenses,” said Weintz. “If ABLE does not have the resources to keep track of or process these requests in a timely and orderly manner, it is going to create a backlog with very real economic implications. Our hope is that the Legislature recognizes the massive undertaking ABLE is being tasked with and gets the agency significant financial help in the future.”

Key modernization proposals signed into law in 2017 include:
• SB 174: Allows both spouses to own two liquor stores
• SB 211: Allows a county option for Sunday sales in liquor stores.
• SB 297: Allows wineries to give away samples of wine
• SB 411: Expands hours of operation for local breweries and liquor stores
• SB 646: Updates licensing laws to support implementation of SQ 792