Voter-Approved Law Benefiting Wineries Found Unconstitutional

Saturday, November 25th 2006, 7:17 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A federal judge finds a state law approved by voters that benefits Oklahoma wineries unconstitutional.

US District Judge Stephen Friot stayed his November 15th order until summer to allow state lawmakers to address the situation.

The constitutional amendment allowed Oklahoma winemakers to sell their products directly to restaurants and liquor stores rather than using a wholesaler.

Three Oklahoma wholesalers sued in March, claiming the law is unconstitutional because it discriminates against out-of-state winemakers.

Oklahoma winemakers contend the law is vital for their survival, noting the state's wine industry grew from three to 41 after State Question 688 was approved in 2000.

Attorney Robert McCampbell, who represents the wholesalers, said the decision provides an orderly process for fixing the law.

Gary Butler of the Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association says he's glad the judge allowed for state lawmakers to find a solution.