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Oklahoma governor approves new alcohol licenses for charities, public events

A bill that will create new categories of alcohol licenses for charities and hosts of public events has been signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
by Randy Ellis Published: May 14, 2014

A bill that will create new categories of alcohol licenses for charities and public events has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

The main purpose of the new law is to create a charitable alcoholic beverage license that will enable charities to host events where alcohol is served in the state without concern about running afoul of state alcohol laws, said state Sen. David Holt, Senate author of Senate Bill 1715.

“Historically, charities in Oklahoma have fundraising events all the time at venues that are not necessarily licensed to serve liquor,” said Holt, R-Bethany. “Some of the things they have been doing, like hiring caterers to hold those events and serve liquor, have in fact been illegal.”

Holt said alcohol enforcement agents ignored such violations for decades, but recently began enforcing them, prompting charities to seek changes in the law.

The new law will create a $55 Charitable Alcoholic Beverage License for charities. Charities that obtain the license will be able to host up to eight charitable events a year where wine, beer and liquor can be served, said Capt. Brent Fairchild of the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.

Charities previously were limited to hosting one beer event or one wine event a year, he said.

Deborah Senner, president and chief executive officer of the local Allied Arts organization, said the change will be good for local charities.

“I am thrilled to see it and I think it will help so many of the nonprofits,” Senner said.

The law also will create a new $1,005 annual public event license and a new $255 one-time public event license. The licenses will give entrepreneurs who are not charities a mechanism to legally serve alcohol at events they host, Fairchild said.

The state House rejected the emergency clause on the bill so it can’t become law until 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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