Wine/beer-in-markets: OK in WA, No in OK

While politicians and market forces are slugging out the matter of selling wine in New York supermarkets, a measure that would have allowed grocery stores in Oklahoma to sell wine and high-alcohol beer has failed.

The Senate Business and Labor Committee killed Senate Joint Resolution 62a measure on Monday. If it had passed, it would have gone to a public vote.

Meanwhile, in Washington state the House passed a measure Saturday night, 72-22, to allow grocery stores to offer wine- and beer-tasting events. The bill now goes to the Senate, which passed a similar measure earlier in the day. A pilot project for such tastings expired last September.

The bill passed Saturday allows grocery stores to continue to offer the tastings. Under the measure, wineries and breweries can conduct pouring, bottle signing, and other similar activities in conjunction with a tasting.

In Oklahoma, the measure was introduced by Sen. Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City, the Senate Democratic minority leader-designate. He cited the potential for economic development.

He said Oklahoma's liquor laws are antiquated and predicted his bill would have been passed in a public vote. Because the measure was killed in committee, it cannot be inserted into another measure.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, said the measure had a number of problems, among them a potential increase in young people's access to alcohol. Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, said the measure was discriminatory because it was limited to Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. But, he said, he would have voted against it even if that had beem remedied.

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