Liquor Store (copy)

John Cavert helps Rosa Benavides pick out a wine at KingsPointe Wine & More in October 2018. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission on Wednesday approved emergency rules to implement a controversial new law governing the distribution of liquor.

The fate of Senate Bill 608 is in the hands of the Oklahoma Supreme Court following a legal challenge.

Senate Bill 608, which was signed into law on May 13, requires that for the 25 most popular brands, manufacturers shall sell the products to every wholesaler.

A top brand is one that is among the 25 most popular brands sold in the previous quarter.

The agency believes the measure is to take effect Aug. 29, although some believe the effective date is Aug. 21. The emergency rules to implement the measure go to Gov. Kevin Stitt for consideration, said Steven Barker, ABLE Commission deputy director.

If the measure withstands the legal challenge, the agency will have to pass the rules through the regular rule-making process, Barker said.

Barker said multiple pleadings have been filed in the case, which is an important issue for the alcohol industry.

A group of wholesalers, wineries, distilleries and liquor stores challenged Senate Bill 608, claiming it violated the provisions of State Question 792.

State Question 792 was a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016 to modernize the state’s liquor laws.

State Question 792, which took effect last October, allows manufacturers and importers of wine and spirits to designate which wholesalers would handle their products.

Wholesalers provide the product to package or liquor stores.

Oral arguments before an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee are set for June 20.

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Barbara Hoberock


Twitter: @bhoberock

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