Colorado: Bill for selling liquor in more grocery stores close to passage in Senate
Source: Fox 31
by Joe St. George
May 6, 2016
A compromise appears to have been reached between stakeholders regarding allowing more full strength beer and liquor to be sold in grocery stores. It passed in a voice vote Friday night. It will go through a procedural recorded vote Monday and then head to the House for consideration.
The bill, which would slowly phase in the expansion over 20 years, passed a second reading in the Senate. It will get a third, procedural vote before going to the House of Representatives.
The question now is, will it hold before lawmakers leave town on May 11th?
“Many people believe that our state has antiquated liquor laws,” Senator Pat Steadman, the lawmaker responsible for the deal, said Friday.
During an approval hearing in front of the State Senate Business Committee, owners of small liquor stores, large chains like Walmart, and brewers testified in support of the measure.
Under the bill, next year grocery chains could add four new locations each.
Over the course of the next several years more locations could be added and by 2037 there would be no limit.
Additional items include repeal the state’s 3.2 beer law by 2019.
In order to get a store to have a liquor license chains must purchase at least two liquor licenses from stores in their area. Those stores must also purchase all of the liquor licenses from stores within 1500 feet of their location.
As for why a compromise occurred, Jeanne McEvoy — who represents small liquor stores — said a fear over a November ballot iniative was a major concern.
McEvoy said if the November ballot would pass, next year every grocery store could sell booze-under this plan it is phased in.
“They’d be gone and we can’t devastate small business like that,” McEvoy said.
A major reason for the compromise is an agreement between the large chains and small liquor stores to stop their ballot initiative. However Your Choice Colorado said they have no plans to stop their measure. A lobbyist for Safeway and Kings Sooper said Friday during the hearing that he could not agree to the compromise at this time.
YCC campaign manager, Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa sent Fox 31 this statement.
“We’re pleased that the legislature and others recognize what consumers have been saying for years – that Colorado’s laws are antiquated and changes benefiting the customer are necessary. We continue to engage in discussions with legislators and will review the short and long term implications of legislation as it develops. However at the same time, we are not altering our plan to take this directly to Colorado voters in November should legislation that benefits the consumer not be passed.”
Andrew Gitin, owner of The Happy Canyon Liquor Store, says the compromise would be a better alternative than the uncertain fate he faces if a ballot initiative were to pass in November, but he says the thought of a buy-out is still discouraging.
“If you’re looking for that big payday, I guess, yes it would give you that opportunity but I would assume that most small business people would be into their employees and would look out for their best interests also,” Gitin said.
To read a detailed summary of the compromise obtained by Fox 31 political reporter Joe St. George, click here. https://localtvkdvr.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/compromise-grocery-alcohol.pdf