Beer Battle Brews Again in Colorado

DENVER -- Once again, lawmakers are looking to pass measures that would let convenience and grocery stores sell full-strength beer, the Denver Daily News reported.

Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, has introduced a bill to permit convenience stores to sell full-strength beer, while Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, has filed a measure to let both grocery and convenience stores sell full-strength beer. Grocery and convenience stores can now only sell beer with a 3.2-percent alcohol content. Boyd's bill would also allow restaurants and bars to sell beer with a low alcohol content, according to the report.

Despite similar proposals being killed three times before, Liston is cautiously optimistic on his bill's chances because "the customer awareness is much more heightened this year." He believes Coloradans have become fed up with the state's "archaic and obsolete" liquor law and want a change. "I have no illusions that this is a slam dunk, but I think we have better than a 50-50 chance," he told the newspaper.

Opponents, however, say the proposed bills are a "two-for-one special that promises to close Colorado businesses and allow minors to sell alcohol to minors." They argue that allowing grocery and c-stores to sell full-strength beer would put smaller liquor stores out of business.

"These are the only bills in the legislature that are sure to kill jobs and force dozens of local Colorado businesses to close," according to a statement from Rep. James Kerr, R-Littleton. "The last thing we should be doing in a recession is pushing bills we know will hurt Colorado businesses and send money off to out-of-state special interest."

But Sean Duffy, a spokesman for a coalition of grocery stores supporting Liston's bill, said critics who claim the bill would cost jobs don’t have "much to hang their mug on." He believes that grocery stores -- one of the state's largest employers -- would maintain and add jobs under Liston's bill and help the state’s economy.

The push for full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores escalated after the legislature passed a bill in 2008 to let liquor stores stay open and sell alcohol on Sundays. Grocery and convenience store owners say that they have lost business since the bill passed and believe Boyd or Liston's bill would help bring some of that business back, the newspaper reported.


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