House bill 1186 shot down after much deliberation

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Posted Tue, Mar 9, 2010

House bill 1186 was set to damage Colorado craft beer industry and put small local liquor stores out of business.

Colorado convenience store House Bill 1186 was put to rest on Feb. 24, with a 8-3 vote by the House Finance Committee.

Lobbyists worked day after day, to get the votes necessary to kill this proposed bill.

However, House Finance Committee members voted to support Colorado small businesses. Representatives Debbie Benefield, Brian DelGrosso, Jerry Frangas, Daniel Kagan, John Kefalas, Jeannie Labuda, Ellen Roberts, Ken Summers voted to kill the bill.

Industry insiders believe that Colorado convenience store beer sales have suffered with alcohol percentage limitations, while Sunday liquor store sales have climbed. These establishments wanted to level the playing field with House Bill 1186. Countless liquor storeowners feel their Colorado legislators are selling out to national corporate interests, leaving the local economy to suffer. The fate of Colorado’s local craft beer industry and local liquor stores are safe for now.

Local liquor stores were threatened by House Bill 1186, because they have such a stronghold on the market. A free market for full-strength beer sales could drive hundreds of small liquor stores out of business. The net loss of jobs could be astonishing.

“The bill would not help create jobs, many would suffer if it were to pass including the consumers,” said Wayne Hill of Thornton’s Total Beverage.

Detractors believe that it’s possible that micro-brewery business would decline statewide, distributors forced to trim staffs, and privately owned mom-and-pop liquor stores could close down completely.

“The bill would direct profits out of state against public interest, profiting national corporations,” said local liquor store manager who asked to remain anonymous.

Chris Emma, store manager of Liquor Mart in downtown Boulder had a number of issues with the proposed bill. Emma said he was, “concerned with more sales outlets for full strength beer not only for the impact on liquor store businesses but for the fact that the bill would allow salespeople in convenience stores to sell beer at the age of eighteen.

“It is most concerning that these 18-year-old’s would not be mature enough or educated enough to make good decisions when given the power to sell full strength beer at convenience stores.”

At Emma’s liquor store there is strict enforcement with identification checks for sales and the salespeople had to be at least old enough to drink themselves. He listed the negative affects on people’s livelihood impacting local mom and pop business owning families saying, “this is the wrong time for such legislation though, there will never be a right time.”

3.2% BEER

ALCOHOL PERCENTAGE LIMITATION ON CONVENIENCE STORE BEER SALES WILL STAY THE SAME FOR NOW

The bill would have allowed the sale of full-strength beer in convenience stores, defined as retail businesses of less than 5,000 square feet and offering quick purchases of food, beverages, or gasoline but not a pharmacy, which otherwise would be limited to selling 3.2 percent beer. It would not allow these convenience stores to sell other types of alcoholic beverages such as wine or spirits. The bill would also have allowed retail liquor stores of less than 5,000 square feet to sell nonperishable food items.

In Colorado, the current law separates licenses for establishments selling beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less. There are separate licenses that permit the sale of other alcohol beverages with higher alcohol content, including regular beer, malt liquor, wine, and spirits. The bill required the department of revenue to conduct a study and report to the general assembly on the effects of the new licensing program by 2016.

“People who drink the swill would buy from the convenience stores but ultimately the consumer with better taste will come to us,” said Don Ryan, a Westminster Total Beverage employee. “If the bill passed it would not put them out of business people would still come here for our selection.”

Most consumers would favor a knowledgeable staff at a liquor store over a grocery store clerk hands down.

Next on the agenda lobbyists look to defeat the grocery store liquor sales House Bill 1279.

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3 Responses to “House bill 1186 shot down after much deliberation”

  1. Business Report Says:

    Significantly, nearly a third of Republicans on Frank’s committee voted for his portions of the housing bill. Business Report

    Reply

  2. Jonathan Ingraham Says:

    I find it fascinating that almost all other states allow alcohol sales in grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies, however, Colorado has had the 3.2 percent ban for so long, too many liquor stores have been built all over the state and that is why people owning those stores are whining about losing their market share. Good information from multiple sources regarding how the metro area feels about beer sales. I likey mucho.

    Reply

    • Brian T. McGinn Says:

      Thanks Jonathan. 1279 is the House Bill that would allow grocery stores to buy out liquor stores and their inventory outright. 1186 is the House bill covered in my article concerned only convenience store liquor sales and how it would affect our local economy including the craft brewing industry. Those other state’s economy are not benefiting from loose liquor laws. Consumers suffer as well as the private liquor store owners. More importantly alcohol is better kept out of the hands of minors when sold in liquor stores as opposed to a clerk at a store under 21 themselves holding the responsibility.

      Reply

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