When voters cast their ballots in November, there's a good chance they could decide whether some grocery and warehouse stores in Oklahoma will be able to legally sell wine.
Under Oklahoma's current liquor laws, only liquor stores can sell wine.
Last week the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahomans for Modern Laws can collect signatures on a petition to get the change in the law on the November ballot.
But the petition is facing a lot of opposition, even from retailers who want to sell wine.
If the change in the law were to pass as written, only stores with 25,000 floor space or more would qualify. Big stores like Walmart and Sam's Club would be eligible, but smaller groceries like Petty's Fine Foods would not. Even retail chain QuikTrip, which already sells beer and wants to sell wine, would not qualify because none of its stores are 25,000 square feet.
Liquor stores are adamantly against the change because they don't want more competition.
Ralph Poplin runs Blue Ridge Wine & Spirits at 31st St. and S. Sheridan Ave. He said wine sales make up about a third of his business. If grocery stores could sell wine, too, he said it would be devastating for him.
"[It would] hurt my business, and over time possibly could put us out of business," Poplin said.
Oklahomans for Modern Laws has been pushing the change in the law. On its Web site the group argues tax revenues would increase if groceries could sell wine. The group also claims the change would help local wineries, help Oklahoma compete with neighboring states with looser liquor laws, and attract new retail outlets.
FOX23 News tried to reach representatives of Oklahomans for Modern Laws to ask why its proposal included such tight stipulations, but never received a call back.
Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesman for QuikTrip, said his company already sells wine and beer at stores in nine of the eleven states in which it operates. As it is written, he said the proposed change to the law would hardly improve anything for anybody.
"It's really not about consumer choice, and it's really not about competition and opening up the market place," he said.
Even if the proposed change to the law did not have the 25,000 square foot minimum as a stipulation, Thornbrugh said another stipulation would still cause problems for QuikTrip if it decided to sell wine.
The proposal would only allow for a company to get up to six licenses for wine sales over the next three years. That means a retail chain could only sell wine in six locations.
Stores like Reasor's, which would qualify for wine sales under the 25,000 square foot stipulation, would be forced to decide which of its 17 stores it wanted to sell wine.
As an average consumer, Clayton Blevins likes the idea of expanding wine sales, but said he isn't sure it would be any more convenient for most Oklahomans who want to buy bottles of wine at places they're already going.
"It's got to be something that's going to be fair for everyone," Blevins said. "And if it's not going to be fair for everyone, I have a hard time agreeing with things like that."
Oklahomans for Modern Laws has 90 days to collect 155,000 signatures on its petition if its proposal is going to appear on the November ballot. Members of the group have publicly acknowledged that is not likely to happen, and have said the group will likely focus more of its effort on getting its wine sales proposal on the 2014 ballot. Click here
for more information on Oklahomans for Modern Laws and its petition.