Republicans and Democrats spent weeks battling over ways to fill Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The two parties have found little common ground on tax revenue, but they have been able to agree on some items that could make it easier to toast legislative achievements, or drown their sorrows following a bill’s defeat.
A few bills that went through the legislature could loosen up state alcohol laws, giving Oklahomans something to look forward to in 2018. Here's a closer look at two of them.
1. Liquor stores could be open on Sundays.
Currently, state law only permits retail liquor stores to be open Monday through Saturday. But Senate Bill 211, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday, would let voters decide through special election whether liquor stores in their county can sell on Sundays.
A board of county commissioners could decide to call the special election on its own. If not, residents could request an election by bringing in a petition with signatures numbering at least 15 percent of the votes cast in in the county in the last general election for governor.
The bill, authored by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, won’t take effect until October 2018. Like other alcohol-related legislation, it’s authorized by State Question 792, which was approved by Oklahoma voters last year. The referendum amends the state constitution to allow the the legislature to pass laws relating to alcohol, among other changes. Since the referendum won’t take effect until Oct. 1, 2018, any new alcohol-related laws, including Senate Bill 211, won’t go into effect until then.
2. Movie theaters will be able to serve alcohol.
With the passage of House Bill 2186, Oklahomans will be able to enjoy a cold brew or a cocktail while watching the latest blockbusters.
The bill removes the ban on movie theaters obtaining a wine and beer license and a mixed beverage license. This means that movie theaters would be able to sell alcoholic drinks to go with popcorn and candy.
Both the House and the Senate voted in favor of the bill this week. Once it receives a signature from the governor, it will also take effect in October 2018.
With just 1 vote to spare, Senate has sent my HB 2186 to Gov's desk. OK joins 35 states in allowing alcohol to be served in movie theaters.
— Senator David Holt (@davidfholt) May 26, 2017
This post was updated at 2:05 p.m. on Friday, May 26, 2017, following the passage of House Bill 2186 by the State Senate.