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Bill would expand grocery store beer sales

Posted at 10:14 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 01:05:03-04

Lawmakers hope a bill aimed at expanding full-strength beer and wine sales is enough to keep the measure off the ballot this November.

On Friday, the measure received key approval from a state Senate committee days before the end of the legislative session.

The bill would phase in a plan that would allow more grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine. Liquor stores would also be allowed to add locations.

Another important requirement would prevent grocery stores from expanding sales if a liquor stores was located within 1500 feet. In order for the grocery store to sell full-strength beer and liquor it would have to buy out the surrounding liquor stores.

Sen. Pat Stedman, D-Denver, the bill's sponsor, said it will force big name grocery stores to consider the smaller businesses around them.

"If we were to change all of this at the ballot in November overnight, people's businesses and their investments become destabilized and at-risk; they could easily but put out of business by the big competitors," said Sen. Stedman.

Grocery stores would be allowed to add five locations selling beer and wine per year until 2037.

You may have noticed TV commercials from Your Choice Colorado, the group behind a ballot initiative to expand grocery store beer sales. Despite the bill advancing, the campaign is not ruling out its ballot measure.

Your Choice Colorado campaign manager, Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa released the following 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.”

At Hugo's Colorado Beer and Spirits, the owner wonders what the bill would mean for other small shops like his.

"Smaller businesses are always fighting for every dollar that we can get and having more competition is not a good thing under any circumstance," said Joe-Michael Wright, who opened Hugo's in 2012.

Customers at a local grocery store pointed out they often have to plan a separate trip to buy liquor. The bill would eventually put an end to 3.2 beer in two years.

"I live in Denver so usually we have to go around and find a liquor store on the corner somewhere. It’s not as convenient as just going to a grocery store," said Mike Hill, after he bough beer at the Glendale Super Target.

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