Oklahoma voters approve 4 state questions

By SEAN MURPHY / Associated Press Writer Modified: November 5, 2008 at 12:13 am •  Published: November 4, 2008
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Oklahoma voters constitutionally secured their right to hunt and fish and provided a boost to the state's growing wine industry by overwhelmingly approving state questions in Tuesday's general election.

Voters easily approved all four state questions on Tuesday's ballot by double-digit margins, based on results from nearly half of the state's precincts.

State Question 742, which adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution declaring that all Oklahomans have the right to "hunt, trap and fish" subject to reasonable regulation, was approved with 80 percent of the vote.

The measure allows the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve methods and procedures for hunting, trapping and fishing.

Senate co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, who authored the bill to place the question on the ballot, said the measure was a proactive step to prevent outside groups from interfering with Oklahoma's hunting and fishing laws.

"There have been a number of states that have passed restrictions on hunting and fishing, and so we worked with the (National Rifle Association) and other hunting and fishing groups to protect those rights here in Oklahoma," said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. "I think hunting and fishing are an important part of our heritage ... and I want to protect those rights for my children and grandchildren."

Voters also provided a lift to the state's winemaking industry with State Question 743, which allows winemakers in Oklahoma and other states — with some restrictions — to sell wine directly to liquor stores and restaurants. The state question was approved with more than 70 percent of the vote, based on early results.

Under current law, wineries are limited to sales at fairs and festivals, unless they go through a liquor wholesaler.

In 2000, Oklahomans voted 3-1 to permit state winemakers to sell directly to liquor stores and restaurants. After that vote, the number of wineries in the state climbed from a handful to more than 40.

But the law was challenged by liquor wholesalers and invalidated in 2006 by federal judge, who said it was discriminatory because it did not give out-of-state wineries the same distribution rights as Oklahoma vintners.

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