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State question on alcohol could be end of 3.2 beer sales in Oklahoma

It may be the end of 3.2 beer if Oklahoma passes State Question 792 in November.

The ballot measure would allow sales of wine and full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores.

Oklahoma accounts for 50 percent of 3.2 beer sold in the nation, and it may no longer make economic sense for brewers to keep making it if Oklahoma legalizes full-strength beer sales in grocery and convenience stores, said Brett Robinson, president of the group Beer Distributors of Oklahoma.

Robinson made his comment at a forum to discuss some of the state questions on the November ballot. Friday's forum, sponsored by Leadership Oklahoma, was at Norman's Embassy Suites Hotel.

Oklahoma is one of just five states that sell 3.2 beer because of alcohol laws. However, Oklahoma is the largest consumer of low-point beer because of how beer sales are structured in the state, Robinson said.

“Oklahoma is the first domino. If it falls, the other states will follow,” he said.

Robinson said SQ 792 would help Oklahoma's wine and craft-brewing industries to flourish.

The Retail Liquor Association opposes State Question 792 because it claims the measure would render locally owned liquor stores unable to compete with large grocery chains.

“I also support getting rid of 3.2 beer,” said Bryan Kerr, president of the Retail Association. “We need to go back to the drawing board and do this right.” Also at the forum, former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson faced off with Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, over State Question 777. Biggs sponsored the legislative referendum, which would make it harder to pass laws to regulate the agricultural industry in the state.

Edmondson now heads the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, the lead opposition group to SQ 777.

At the forum, Edmondson argued that SQ 777 would give large, foreign-owned farming operations constitutional protections that no other industry in the state enjoys.

“We don't know in five years what kinds of pesticides, herbicides that will be introduced that we won't be able to do a thing about,” Edmondson said.

Biggs argued that the measure would help protect low food prices in Oklahoma. The cost of groceries could increase if farmers in the state become subject to increased regulations advocated by animal welfare groups, he said.

“What other industry in the state provides the food that we eat and clothes that we wear?” Biggs said.

Related Photos
File: Bud Light beer stocked at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives]

File: Bud Light beer stocked at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b7363d16c0d2969b8951227b77141f2e.jpg" alt="Photo - File: Bud Light beer stocked at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives] " title="File: Bud Light beer stocked at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives] "><figcaption>File: Bud Light beer stocked at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-31e4f85706d73ae43b00ba33de46feda.jpg" alt="Photo - An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5394bfda42aecedc9b4339fe09a4c4c5.jpg" alt="Photo - Shock Top beer stocked in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="Shock Top beer stocked in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>Shock Top beer stocked in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2c22ac8716a171a3e10850025c9da617.jpg" alt="Photo - An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman " title="An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure>
Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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