Cleveland County commissioners approved an election resolution Monday that will give voters the chance to approve liquor store sales on Sundays.

The vote will occur on March 3, the same date as the presidential preferential primary election in Oklahoma.

Liquor modernization laws adopted by Oklahoma voters in 2016 require county voters to approve Sunday liquor store sales. Tulsa County was the first county in the state to call for such an election.

Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said county liquor stores owners requested the commissioners place the issue on the ballot.

"They want to have a fair playing field when it comes to selling wine and even cold beer on Sundays," he said. "They want to be equal with the major retailers like Walmart and Target. The thing is we wouldn't call for an election unless there was support by the business owners in that industry."

Brian Kerr, president of the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma, estimated liquor store owners would see an increase in sales of about 5% if they are able to open on Sundays.

Three liquor store owners called Cleveland expressing support for the election resolution that will give voters the opportunity to approve Sunday sales.

"Most people have said if I can get it at Walmart, why not the liquor stores," Cleveland said. "Their thought is if they (liquor stores) want to be open they should have that option. I had one owner tell me 'I support it, but I don't know if it'll make business sense to me, but I want the option of opening.'"

Oklahoma voters approved State Question 792 in November 2016. The proposition, which passed by a substantial margin, allows grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and strong-point beer each day of the week.

On the flip side, liquor stores have been allowed for the past year to sell accessories such as cork screws, ice and other items. The constitutional amendment approved by voters also allows liquor stories to sell refrigerated beer, which was not allowed before Oct. 1, 2018, when the modernized liquor laws went into effect.

Cleveland believes Sunday liquor store sales will pass based on voter approval of medical marijuana in 2018. Cleveland County approved medical marijuana with 60 percent of the vote.

Tim Farley366-3539tfarley@normantranscript.com

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