Liquor store hours should be expanded
State senators should not be too quick to amend Senate Bill 651 by Sen. Frank Shurden, which would extend liquor store hours to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Shurden has said the bill is likely to be amended because of opposition by some liquor retailers in the state. Simply put, this argument doesn't hold water.
If the bill passed, liquor stores would have the option of staying open until 10 p.m. six nights a week and would be able to operate on New Year's Day and Veterans Day; they would in no way be forced to. Any retailer that felt uncomfortable staying open for an extra hour or that felt business would not be good enough after 9 p.m. to warrant paying staff to stay until 10 p.m. would not be obligated to stay open.
This bill merely allows liquor stores to have the option of staying open later, giving them more freedom. Arguments from some retailers opposed to the bill are as ridiculous as suggesting that allowing Oklahomans to drink somehow forces all Oklahomans to drink.
The alcohol laws in Oklahoma, sometimes referred to as "blue laws," are some of the strictest in the nation. Already it is only legal to sell beer above 3.2 percent alcohol by weight in registered liquor stores, limiting the supply and variety of beers in the state. Title 37 sets the liquor store hours of sale in Oklahoma from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and liquor stores are only allowed to open after 7 p.m. on election days.
Oklahoma legislators should start making efforts to repeal these morality-based, anachronistic laws and not let some retailers hinder the relaxation of Oklahoma's liquor laws.
In cultures where alcohol is less taboo and more accepted, such as Germany, drunk driving arrests and deaths by alcohol poisoning are far more rare than in areas that treat alcohol sales like a sinful business.
State Senate Bill 651 should be passed without being amended into oblivion. The liquor retailers who have complained are not being forced to stay open and therefore should not try to limit the freedoms of other retailers.
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