Law & Principles

Jonathan Small | February 5, 2016

Free Market Friday: Time to modernize, not stifle

Jonathan Small

Policymakers will work this legislative session to change the failed status quo. An area that has hassled Oklahomans for decades is alcohol, beer and wine regulation in Oklahoma. Consumers have long called for modernization of Oklahoma’s archaic alcohol, beer and wine laws. Policymakers are heeding the call.

Oklahoma’s current laws are descendant relics of the Prohibition era and unnecessarily restrict and compartmentalize the production, delivery and sale of alcohol, beer and wine in Oklahoma.

Policymakers should remove nonsensical distribution barriers that inhibit the craft beer industry in Oklahoma.

Policymakers should also end the rare prohibition on sales of strong beer and wine in places most convenient for Oklahomans to purchase it, like grocery stores. This aligns Oklahoma with states that have chosen freer markets and consumer satisfaction.

Oklahomans want efforts to modernize Oklahoma alcohol, beer and wine laws to bring us into parity with most states. Under state Sen. Stephanie Bice’s leadership and guidance, these long-awaited conversations have been taking steps forward toward true reform.

But policymakers should be wary of select special interests who are trying to use Oklahomans’ desire for modernization to enrich themselves. Already these few select special interests are scheming to gerrymander alcohol, beer and wine laws to result in government picking winners and losers.

Oklahomans will be astonished to know that while they lend their support to common-sense reforms, a few select special interests are trying to clear the playing field to prohibit out-of-state based companies from owning businesses such as distributorships.

Proposals that orchestrate the eventual mandated exit of out-of-state based companies are not based on free market principles and are not true to our values. These schemes are a massive danger to an Oklahoma economy that already lacks diversity and that is reeling from external effects on its largest private sector contributor, oil and gas mining.

The majority of Oklahoma policymakers have consistently rejected special interest efforts to ban out-of-state based companies in other industries. Accordingly, policymakers should reject schemes to ban out-of-state based companies from participating in the various areas of the alcohol, beer and wine industry in Oklahoma. A diverse, unstifled mix of companies participating in a market is always best for consumers.

As policymakers change Oklahoma’s alcohol, beer and wine laws, they must reject special interests’ desires to pick winners and losers and instead modernize, not stifle.

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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