Liquor Store Owner Speaks Out Against Changing OK Liquor Laws
OKLAHOMA CITY - Big changes could be looming for Oklahoma's liquor laws, as the state Supreme Court continues to weigh whether a petition drive to change the state's liquor laws is constitutional.
News 9 first heard arguments for allowing that petition, but now business owners who could feel the biggest impacts if the laws ever do get changed are speaking out against the measure.
If the petition is successfully circulated and Oklahoma voters approve it, residents could find wine in some Oklahoma supermarkets.
It's a battle to keep wine out of the grocery stores and on the shelves of local liquor stores. Bryan Kerr owns Moore Liquor. He doesn't question the legality of the petition, but questions the motive behind it.
"The way this one is written, in particular, where it caters to some very specific interest people who own a couple of big grocery stores in big cities in Oklahoma, while cutting out everybody else," Kerr said.
Kerr says while it might sound like a good idea to some voters, he's confident as they learn more about the proposed changes, voters will turn the petition down.
"It doesn't provide us with anything more than a tiny bit of convenience. And the tradeoff is confusion, potentially higher prices in the future, potentially less selection in the future, taxes going out of state instead of in state," said Kerr.
"They're motivated to take that profit from the locally owned businesses and put it in the pockets of the big box businesses."
But attorney Lee Slater who represents the proponents of the petition thinks liquor stores have other motives: profit.
"They obviously don't want the competition. Although I might point out that they would still have a monopoly on the sale of strong beer and spirits," said Slater.
Kerr tells News 9 these changes probably wouldn't hurt his business so much, but he thinks smaller retailers would definitely feel the pinch. He says based on how Oklahomans have voted in the past on liquor laws gives him confidence either the petition will fail to collect enough signatures or will be voted down on Election Day.
The most recent polls suggest Oklahomans overwhelming oppose changes to the current laws. The state Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling in the coming weeks.