Attorney General Pruitt Approves Sales and Consumption for Brewers

Attorney General Pruitt Approves Sales and Consumption for Brewers

Issues Official Opinion on SB424

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Tuesday announced his office has reviewed SB 424 and has issued an official opinion at the request of the Oklahoma ABLE Commission:

“As promised, my office has completed its legal review and analysis of SB 424 and has issued an official opinion in response to the ABLE Commission’s request. Interpreting the law is never about picking winners or losers. This opinion upholds the original intent of the legislature, which was to permit craft brewers to sell high-point beer for consumption both on and off their premises. I am confident this opinion provides certainty to regulators, businesses, and the people of Oklahoma.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION
2016-6
A. Keith Burt, Director August 23. 2016
Oklahoma ABLE Commission
3812 N. Santa Fe Ave., Suite 200
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73118
Dear Director Burt:
This office has received your request for an Official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask
the following questions:
1. Does Senate Bill 424 allow a brewer licensee to sell beer it produces to
consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older for consumption by that
consumer on the licensed premises?
2. Does Senate Bill 424 allow a brewer licensee to sell beer it produces to
consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older for consumption by that
consumer off of the licensed premises?
Under current state law, brewers cannot sell high point beer directly to consumers. See 37
O.S.201 1, § 505(A) (“No person shall.. .sell.. .any alcoholic beverage except as specifically
provided in the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.”). Section 521 of Title 37 of the
Oklahoma Statutes permits brewers to offer free samples of such beer so long as the amount
given as a sample to any individual equals no more than twelve ounces in one day. 37
O.S.Supp.2016, § 521(A). The recently-enacted Senate Bill 424 (“SB 424”) permits brewers to,
for the first time, sell high point beer directly to consumers. See 2016 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 367,
§ 1 (eff 8-26-16). You ask whether the new law limits where the consumers may consume the
beer. We answer your questions below.
In interpreting legislative enactments, we begin with the text of the statute itself. World Pub. Co.
v. Miller, 2001 OK 49, ¶ 7, 32 P.3d 829, 832. “If the language is plain and clearly expresses the
Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution, statutes passed pursuant to that Article (like 37
O.S.Supp.2016, § 521), and the rules of the Alcoholic Beverage Laws and Enforcement Commission do
not generally apply to low-point beer (beer containing 3.2% or less alcohol by weight). See OKLA.
CONSI. art. 28, § 2. Nothing in this Opinion is intended to affect or address the sales of low point beer, or
to address any constitutional questions that might be raised by SB 424.
313 N.E. 21ST STREET • OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73105 • (405) 521-3921 • fAx: (405) 521-6246
recycled paperDirector Burt Opinion 20 16-6
Oklahoma ABLE Commission Page 2
legislative will, further inquiry is unnecessary.” Ledbetter v. Howard, 2012 OK 39, ¶ 12, 276 P.3 d 1031, 1035. Our task is thus to determine the ordinary meaning of the words that the
Legislature chose in the provisions of law at issue. $ee Rogers v. Quiktrip Corp., 2010 OK 3, ¶ 11, 230 P.3d 853, 859 (“[I]ntent is derived from the language of a statute.”)
SB 424 states that “[a] brewer license shall authorize the holder thereof: . . . to sell beer produced
by the licensee to consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older on the premises of the
brewery.” 2016 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 367, § 1(A) (eff 8-26-16) (emphasis added). The provision
unambiguously authorizes sales of beer on the premises of the brewery to consumers, and does
not restrict tite location in which consttmers may consume that beer.
Had the Legislature intended to limit the location of consumption of the beer that is sold, it could
have said so, just as it has done in neighboring provisions. For example, “[a] mixed beverage
license shall authorize the holder thereof: To . . . offer for sale and possess mixed beveragesfor
on-premises consumption only.” 37 O.S.Supp.2016, § 521(I) (emphasis added). Similarly, “[a]
package store license shall authorize the holder thereof: To purchase alcohol, spirits, beer, and
wine in retail containers . . . to consumers for off-premises consumption only.” Id. § 521(H) (emphasis added). Moreover, SB 424 limits the manner of sale of beer by brewers in other
respects, for example, by permitting sales only to consumers twenty-one years of age or older
and only during the hours between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., but does not impose any limitations
on the location of consumption. Given that the Legislature knows how to include words of
limitation, but chose not to, we conclude that the Legislature intended no such limitation. See A.
Scalia & B. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 93 (2012) (“Nothing is to be
added to what the text states or reasonably implies.., a matter not covered is to be treated as not
covered.”). SB 424 thus authorizes sales of beer produced by the brewery to consumers on the
premises, and in no way limits the place of consumption.2
It is, therefore, the official Opinion of the Attorney General that:
1. Senate Bill 424 permits a brewer licensee to sell beer it produces to
consumers twenty-one years of age or older for consumption by that
consumer on the licensed premises.
2. Senate Bill 424 permits a brewer licensee to sell packaged beer it
produces to consumers twenty-one years of age or older for consumption
by that consumer off of the licensed premises.
E. SCOTT PRUITT
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA
2 To the extent SB 424 conflicts with other provisions of law that might otherwise limit certain sales, we
read the Legislature’s unequivocal, unlimited authorization of these sales as amending those laws by
creating a narrow exception for brewers to make these sales.Director Burt Opinion 20 16-6
Oklahoma ABLE Commission Page 3
PATRICK R. WYRICK
SOLICITOR GENERAL
OKLAHOMA OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

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