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State Questions 790 and 792

In this final installment of the November 2016 ballot measures, we are covering state question 790, a measure regarding public money and religious freedom, and state question 792, a measure regarding the sale of wine and beer in Oklahoma. 

State Question 790 is a constitutional amendment that was put on the ballot by a majority vote of the Oklahoma Legislature.  If approved, the legislatively referred constitutional amendment would appeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes, commonly referred to as a Blaine Amendment.

A vote ?yes? is a vote in favor of allowing public money to be spent for religious purposes.

A vote ?no? is a vote against allowing public money to be spent for religious purposes.

Supporters of SQ790 believe that the repeal would remove an obstacle to the state allowing religious institutions to participate in public programs on an equal basis with non-religious institutions.

Opponents of SQ790 state that if passed it would open the state to expensive federal lawsuits that the Oklahoma Attorney General would have to defend at the expense of Oklahoma taxpayers.

State Question 792 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, it would amend the constitution and give the state Legislature the authority to make new rules regarding Oklahoma?s alcohol restrictions.  If the proposal is approved, it would repeal Article 28 and replace it with Article 28A.

Currently in Oklahoma, grocery and convenience stores can only sell low point beer, and it may be refrigerated. Sales are allowed any day of the week from 6am to 2am.  And liquor stores can sell liquor, wine, and full strength beer only at room temperature during the hours of 10am to 9pm Monday through Saturday.

If passed, it would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell cold beer at a stronger alcohol volume along with wine any day of the week from 7am to 2am.  It would also allow liquor stores to sell full strength beer, wine, and liquor from 10am to midnight Monday through Saturday.  And liquor stores would be able to sell other products, such as food. 

Voting ?yes? supports completely changing the laws governing alcohol sales and distribution in the state.

Voting ?no? opposes the proposition to repeal current laws concerning alcohol distribution and replace them.

Supporters of SQ792 say current Oklahoma laws are outdated and inconvenient to consumers, causing shoppers to spend money out of state to purchase alcohol.  The passing of SQ792 would additionally provide Oklahomans with the same level of access to wine and beer as consumers in 45 other states.  Current laws prevent the growth of local industries, such as wineries and craft beer.

Opponents of SQ792 argue that if passed it would cause some liquor stores to go out of business due to the inability to compete with grocery and convenience stores along with the added cost of having to add refrigeration to their store for the beer.  And by allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell strong beer and wine, it would concentrate more power in the hands of fewer corporate owners, reduce competition and result in higher prices.  

This analysis was done by Lori Harless, researcher and resource coordinator for the Oklahoma Academy. You can find more information about these state questions at these links: 

www.ok.gov/elections/Elections_Info/State_Question_Info.html

www.oklahomawatch.org
www.ballotpedia.org/oklahoma

Jennifer Engleman | Nov 3, 2016