Groups seek vote on Sunday liquor sales

Two groups want to modify Sunday liquor sales in Canadian County.
One group is circulating petitions to put two questions on the ballot – one intended to allow bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks earlier than the current 2 p.m. A second petition seeks to allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays.
That group would need to gather signatures equal to 15% of the voters in the last gubernatorial election in Canadian County to quality the measures for the ballot.
That would be 6,893 signatures, based on the 45,951 votes cast, Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said.
Another group, representing restaurants and bars, has organized to pressure the Canadian County commissioners to put on the ballot the question of earlier Sunday sales.
The restaurant and bar group plans to meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce office, Suite 130, 10 S. Main St.
Nathan Cross, of Grady’s 66 Pub, is involved with both approaches.
He signed the petitions to place the questions on the ballot, along with five representatives of the Canadian County Liberation Party.
He also is an organizer of the other group.
The 2 p.m. Sunday serving time puts him and other restaurant and bar owners at a disadvantage because Canadian County residents can get a drink in Oklahoma County earlier on Sundays, he said.
“Tax dollars are leaving the county,” he said.
“Since I don’t serve food, I don’t open until 2 p.m. on Sundays.
“I would like for people to come in at noon to watch a football game, but I’m not going to open early just to serve Coke and water.”
Proposed changes in Sunday sales in a county can be placed on the ballot in one of two ways – a petition or by a vote of the three county commissioners.
On March 2, Commissioner Jack Stewart suggested that the commissioners place the question of an earlier sales of drinks on the ballot.
Commissioners Marc Hader and David Anderson did not respond then.
On Monday, Hader said he favored having a group collect signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
“I like the petition,” he said. “It’s part of the democratic process.”
Anderson said he also favors a petition.
“It would show a real desire by residents,” he said.
Stewart disagreed with his colleagues.
“I have no problem with us putting it on the ballot,” he said.
One advantage of the commissioners moving forward on their own is that they can schedule the election to coincide with another election – rather than schedule a special election, Stewart said.
“Elections aren’t cheap,” he said. “They come with a cost.”
Trey Bishop, of the Canadian County Libertarians, said he agreed with holding the election on the date of another election.
Board of Election Secretary Wanda Armold outlined the deadlines for filing language for upcoming elections.
The filing deadline for the June 30 statewide primary election is April 15, she said.
The filing deadline for the Aug. 25 primary runoff election, which will be held only if needed, is June 10, she said.
Bishop was skeptical about obtaining enough signatures in time for either elections.
“It’s going to be hard to get signatures because of the coronavirus scare,” he said.
The Libertarian Party decided to take up the Sunday sales issue as a way to protect individual freedom, Bishop said.
“It’s a good test question for us,” he said.
The discrepancy between Canadian County and Oklahoma County increased as a side effect of changes in state liquor laws that went into effect in October 2018.
Before that, restaurants in the county could serve beer with 3.2 percent alcohol at any time on Sundays. That was because 3.2 beer was considered a nonalcoholic beverage.
The new liquor eliminated the sale of 3.2 beer.

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