Oklahoma group puts finishing touches on liquor ballot language

Group ready to submit possible state question on wine, beer issue.
BY ANDREW KNITTLE aknittle@opubco.com Published: December 17, 2011
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A spokesman for a group seeking to change Oklahoma's liquor laws says they're nearly ready to submit a potential state question to officials at the Capitol.

Brian Howe, spokesman for Oklahomans for Modern Laws, said his group is putting finishing touches on a possible ballot language that would allow wine and single-strength beer to be sold in grocery and convenience stores of a certain size.

Howe said his group tried to get the measure pushed through the legislature during the past session, but a task force formed to explore the issue disbanded after meeting only twice.

“Now, the focus is on the initiative effort, and I think it's the only opportunity, to be honest,” he said. “Basically, the liquor lobby lined the task force with our opponents. ... It never really had a chance.”

Howe said the group is hoping to have the question on the ballot for the 2012 general election, which means they'll be turning it in to officials in early January.

The gathering of signatures, if it gets to that point, should begin in late March or early April.

“We're going to gather in excess of 200,000 signatures, which is common practice to make sure you have enough valid ones,” Howe said. “Fifteen percent of the last general election, which was in 2010, is 155,000 votes, so we want that 200,000 to be sure.”