Extension of Oklahoma liquor law considered | Government and politics
Posted onAuthorDanielle R. JonesComments Off on Extension of Oklahoma liquor law considered | Government and politics
OKLAHOMA CITY — The possibility of allowing grocery stores and convenience stores to sell alcohol is being raised by a lobbyist for Walmart and other retailers who met behind closed doors in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
In an email to stakeholders, Pat McFerron, founding partner of CMA Strategies, asked attendees what they would like to see changed in state liquor laws. He also asked what possible change would cause participants to oppose a complete rewrite of alcohol.
He also asked, “How willing is your manager to help underwrite an aggressive campaign to change Oklahoma’s laws?”
McFerron is a lobbyist for Walmart.
“Our customers have told us they want more choice and convenience when shopping for spirits in Oklahoma and we’re interested in seeing what role we could play in advocating for them on this issue,” Walmart said in a statement provided. by McFerron.
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Brett Robinson, president of the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma organization, attended the meeting via Zoom. He said he was grateful Walmart sought input from others at this point.
He said it was a “friendly and candid discussion among peers in the alcohol industry in Oklahoma. We’ve heard what Walmart had to say, and we’ll continue to look at these issues very closely and see how these things play out.
He said some convenience store reps also wanted to sell spirits.
Michael Junk, a QuikTrip lobbyist, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
To change state liquor laws, lawmakers could ask a state question on the ballot.
If that doesn’t happen, supporters could circulate an initiative petition for constitutional change on the ballot.
A few years ago, voters decided through a state question to allow grocery stores to sell chilled beer and wine.
The Retail Liquor Store Association of Oklahoma opposes grocery stores and convenience stores selling liquor, said Robert Jernigan, president of the organization.
He said about 11% of liquor stores in the state closed after the latest round of liquor modernization laws took effect.
“I lost 30% of my wine revenue overnight when Walmart started selling wine,” he said. “I would expect to lose at least that much spirit, which would probably hurt me.”
He thinks the critics could defeat another modernization effort.
Dirk van Veen is vice president of the Retail Liquor Store Association of Oklahoma. He said sales revenue would go to out-of-state businesses under the proposed changes instead of staying in Oklahoma as more locally owned package stores would close.
Fewer liquor stores, tax revenue changes: How have liquor modernization laws affected Oklahoma since October 1, 2018?
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