Sunday liquor store sales
Liquor bottles line shelves at Last Call Wine & Spirits in Norman, Oklahoma on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Archiebald Browne)

While most eyes may be on the presidential primary elections Tuesday, seven counties in Oklahoma will also vote on whether to allow liquor store sales on Sundays.

Counties voting on the legalization of Sunday liquor store sales will be Cleveland, Creek, Kingfisher, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Tulsa and Washington, according to a spokesperson from the Oklahoma State Election Board.

The propositions would allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays and come more than three years after statewide liquor law changes were approved by voters, allowing strong beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores. Several other alcohol modernization changes have followed.

Norman Mayor Breea Clark said Oklahoma is getting caught up with what other states have been doing for some time.

“I support small businesses, and that’s often what liquor stores are,” Clark said. “It just levels the playing field with being able to buy wine on Sundays at Target or 7-Eleven.”

Passed in 2016, State Question 792 authorized grocery stores to sell beer of up to 8.99 percent alcohol by volume as well as wine up to 14.99 percent alcohol by volume, under refrigeration.

“With the passage by voters of SQ 792 in 2018, grocery and convenience stores are now able to sell wine and beer on Sundays, so it seems reasonable to allow retail liquor stores to have the same opportunity should they choose to,” said State Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC) who has spearheaded several of Oklahoma’s alcohol modernization laws.

In addition to presidential primaries and a proposed city sales tax for the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department, OKC voters will also find the liquor store change on their Tuesday ballots. Today is the final day of early voting at county election boards.

‘It doesn’t make sense to have one and not the other’

The mayor of Cleveland County’s largest municipality, Clark said she cannot think of a reason why someone would oppose the upcoming vote.

“I can see the downside of, ‘should it be open’ and force people to change how they operate their business,” Clark said. “But it provides more options, and more options are always good.”

Clark said she hasn’t heard any opposition to the proposal in Cleveland County, but rather she has heard appreciation from residents on the potential flexibility and how quickly state legislators and county officials are moving.

“I have not heard any opposition, and I’m sure there’s going to be some,” Clark said. “But I do think it will pass handily.”

Clark said she expects more tweaks and updates will be needed in Oklahoma’s liquor laws, and she included the county proposals being considered Tuesday.

For Norman, Clark said tailgating at University of Oklahoma football games and enjoying special events such as the annual Norman Music Festival have become easier in recent years.

Previously, areas had to be marked off by security, making such events incredibly expensive for alcohol sales.

“[It] put a damper on how people were able to set up and operate events like that,” Clark said.

She said Sunday liquor store sales would represent another step forward.

“It’s something that just goes along with modernizing these liquor laws. It doesn’t make sense to have one and not the other,” Clark said. “I want to make sure small businesses are supported, and if it’s a business that does not choose to open on Sundays, they don’t have to.”