The Thirsty Beagle: Five-pack of alcohol bills advances at Legislature

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Five-pack of alcohol bills advances at Legislature

Thursday is an important day legislatively speaking. That's the deadline day for bills in this year's legislative session to get a committee hearing in the opposite chamber.

If you're watching the news, you're probably seeing a lot of stories about bills being dead for the year because of being voted down or not receiving committee hearings.

That type of situation will not effect the various alcohol-related bills working their way through the Capitol this year.

There are a five-pack of such bills, all originated in the Senate, and the last of the five were passed through the House Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee earlier today.

That means all five bills will now move no for debate and votes in the full House. With an affirmative House vote -- barring any amendments or new versions of the legislation -- the bills will then move on to the governor.

Let's take a look at the bills, which all work to expand on or clarify aspects of State Question 792:

(Hat tip to the advocacy group Modernize Oklahoma for helping summarize these bills)

Senate Bill 174: Allowing both spouses to own two liquor stores

SQ 792 raised the limit for liquor store ownership from one to two stores beginning in October 2018. SB 174 clarifies that both spouses may own two liquor stores (four per couple).

Senate Bill 211: Allowing a county option for Sunday sales (noon to midnight) in liquor stores

Beginning in October 2018, grocery and convenience stores can sell cold, regular strength beer and wine on Sundays while liquor stores cannot. SB 211 gives counties the option of allowing Sunday sales at liquor stores. A countywide vote on Sunday sales would be triggered either by a successful initiative petition or the support of a majority of county commissioners.

Senate Bill 297: Clarifying the rights of local wineries

SB 297 eliminates ambiguity surrounding the rights of local wineries. It clarifies the Legislature’s intent that, 1) wineries can give away limited free samples of wine, and 2) wineries can sell wine by the glass.

Senate Bill 411: Expanded hours of operation for local breweries and liquor stores

Currently, Oklahoma breweries can only remain open between the hours of noon and 9 p.m. SB 411 allows these breweries the same operating hours as bars: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. It allows liquor stores to be open from 8 a.m. to midnight and grocery/convenience stores to sell cold, regular strength beer and wine from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Senate Bill 646: Updates licensing laws to support implementation of SQ 792

SB 646 allows the ABLE commission to issue interim licenses to beer, wine and liquor distributors to support the transition to single-strength beer under State Question 792. SB 646 aims to assure successful implementation of SQ 792 by the October 2018 implementation date.

One other bonus note I should add: I blogged earlier this year about House Bill 1686 -- that's the bill that would have increased the excise tax on beer and liquor producers. Much to the relief of many in the industry, that bill died out earlier this session and will not advance this year.

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