Tulsa's Young Professionals spent Wednesday at the State Capitol meeting with leaders. While there, the group learned more about current liquor laws and how they could potentially be harming current and potential businesses.
"What we are concerned with is the economic development impact of our antiquated liquor laws," said TYPros Government Relations Leader Rachel Hutchings. "What we'd like to focus on, when bringing companies into Oklahoma, usually they use two primary reasons why they won't come. One is not being able to sell wine in their stores."
TYPros organized a "Bring it to Tulsa" event a few weeks ago, where it drove to Kansas City to bring back items from Trader Joe's to sell in Tulsa. It posted a sign at its temporary pop up shop, saying it could not bring back the popular Two Buck Chuck because of state liquor laws. This leads to questions regarding whether or not stores, like Trader Joe's or the reportedly interested Costco, would come to Oklahoma.
"Our laws do create some silly situations," said Representative Glen Mulready.
Rep. Mulready met with TYPros Wednesday to talk about legislation that passed the House Tuesday. He pushed through the bill that would allow breweries to offer limited amounts of beer samples to people 21 and older after tours and other events. Currently, he said, Oklahoma and Alabama are the only two states that do not allow these samples. The bill is on its way to the State Senate.
"We have tons of people on a weekly basis that come through, drive through the state from out of state or in town on business that want to come check out the local brewery," said Eric Marshall of Marshall Brewing Company. "Unfortunately we have to turn them away because we can't give them any samples." He helped Rep. Mulready with the bill.
TYPros is supporting this legislation and also another separate piece of legislation that has passed through its committee and is on it's way to the House. It would allow liquor stores to sell items like corkscrews, glasses, and soda pop. Rep. Mulready said this legislation failed last year, likely because convenience stores do not like not being able to sell alcohol if liquor stores can sell other common convenience store items.
Rep. Mulready said he understands that current liquor laws can be challenging for businesses.
"I can cite, in my district, a liquor store is sitting next to a little store, which is owned by the same person, but you've got to go out the door to then go next door and buy soda," said Rep. Mulready. "I'm not sure that is a very business friendly situation."
TYPros said it encourages Green Country residents to contact their state legislators regarding liquor laws and educate themselves about where the state currently stands.