Grocery store wine-sales proponents win ruling
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, June 29, 2012
6/29/12 at 7:37 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an initiative petition seeking a vote on a plan to let some grocery stores sell wine can proceed.
The vote was 5-4.
The ruling came after a legal challenge brought by Oklahoma City convenience store owner Yousef Javadzadeh and anti-addition groups.
Supporters must collect about 155,000 votes to get the issue on the ballot.
"I would say we are quite pleased," said Brian Howe, director of Oklahomans for Modern Laws, which plans to circulate the petition. "We're looking forward to moving forward with the petition drive."
Howe said it is unlikely that the petition process can be completed to get the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.
If that can't be accomplished, the measure will be on the 2014 ballot if enough signatures are gathered and approved, he said.
If approved by voters, State Question 763 would let counties of at least 50,000 people consider a limited expansion of wine retail sales. The expansion would require approval by voters in the county.
Grocery stores and warehouse clubs with at least 25,000 square feet of floor space would be allowed to sell wine.
Opponents said the ballot measure violated the prohibition against putting multiple subjects into a single ballot issue.
The one-subject rule is designed to prevent voters from being forced to support something when it contains elements with which they might not agree.
Opponents also alleged the measure violated the equal protection clauses of the Oklahoma and U.S. constitutions because it treated similarly situated entities differently, those being grocery store owners and package store owners.
Liquor store owners must live in the state. The measure would allow out-of-state grocery store owners or corporations to hold a license.
Questions and answers about State Question 763
If approved by voters, State Question 763 would let counties of at least 50,000 people consider a limited expansion of retail wine sales. Such an expansion would require approval by voters in the county.
Who could sell wine: Licensed retail outlets of at least 25,000 square feet - including grocery stores, supercenters and warehouse clubs - would be allowed to sell wine. Liquor stores would still be able to sell wine, as well. Convenience stores would not be allowed to sell wine.
Other limitations: A single retailer could hold only two licenses during the first two years of the law. In the subsequent two years, the retailer could obtain two more. In the subsequent two years, it could obtain two more. No licensee could have more than six licenses.
What counties would be affected: The change would apply only to Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Garfield, Grady, LeFlore, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Payne, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties.
Just wine?: Yes. The proposal does not affect liquor or strong beer sales, which are restricted to liquor stores.
Limited hours: Retail outlets would be able to sell wine only during hours it can be legally sold in liquor stores. No Sunday sales.
Taxes: Retail stores would collect the same taxes on wine sales as liquor stores.
What happens next: Oklahomans for Modern Laws must get at least 155,000 verified signatures of Oklahoma voters. If that is accomplished, the question would be placed on an election ballot.
Original Print Headline: Wine-sales push wins ruling
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465