Colorado bill provides phase-in for full-strength beer in grocery stores

In this June 9, 2016, photo, beer manager Kippie Loughlin stocks a shelf with hundreds of varieties of single beers at Liquor Mart in Boulder, Colo. On June 10, Colorado’s governor signed a bill to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. The bill signed Friday by Gov. John Hickenlooper starts a 20-year phase-in for grocers to acquire liquor licenses, sometimes by paying for those held by neighboring liquor stores. | AP Photo/Brennan Linsley; St. George News

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, making the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition.

The law sets up a 20-year period for grocers to slowly acquire liquor licenses, sometimes by paying for those held by neighboring liquor stores.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper holds up the bill after signing it to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine on Friday, June 10, 2016, in Denver. The law, which makes the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition, sets up a 20-year period for grocers to slowly acquire liquor licenses. Colorado's largest grocers say the change will take too long and vow to ask voters this fall for speedier changes. | AP Photo/David Zalubowski; St. George News
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper holds up the bill after signing it to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine on Friday, June 10, 2016, in Denver. The law, which makes the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition, sets up a 20-year period for grocers to slowly acquire liquor licenses. Colorado’s largest grocers say the change will take too long and vow to ask voters this fall for speedier changes. | AP Photo/David Zalubowski; St. George News

By 2037, Colorado would repeal its unusual limits on how many licenses a company or chain may hold to sell alcohol. It also would end a requirement that most grocers sell only “near-beer,” watered-down versions of common brews.

Colorado’s largest grocers say the change will take too long and vow to ask voters this fall for speedier changes.

Hickenlooper recently said he didn’t want to see any change to liquor laws to protect the jobs of small store owners. But he signed the measure after meeting with brewers, liquor stores and grocers.

“I was persuaded by the majority of independent liquor store owners,” Hickenlooper told reporters Friday afternoon. The store owners feared that voters would approve a measure to immediately allow full-strength beer, wine and liquor in all grocery stores, he said.

“This bill allows a transition period, where all the change doesn’t happen overnight,” Hickenlooper said.

The state’s largest grocers — King Soopers, Safeway and Albertsons — said they may still run multimillion-dollar ballot campaigns this fall to end the “near beer” requirements once and for all. Colorado is one of only 5 states to have “near-beer” in grocery stores; the five states are Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah.

“Consumers want real beer and wine in the grocery store. They don’t want to wait until 2037,” said Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa, who is managing the campaign for the Colorado grocers’ ballot measure.

In this June 9, 2016 photo, a customer shops at Liquor Mart in Boulder, Colo. On June 10, Colorado’s governor signed a bill to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. | AP Photo/Brennan Linsley; St. George News
In this June 9, 2016 photo, a customer shops at Liquor Mart in Boulder, Colo. On June 10, Colorado’s governor signed a bill to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. | AP Photo/Brennan Linsley; St. George News

Five versions of a ballot measure to allow more groceries to sell full-strength beer have been proposed. Supporters have until August to turn in some 98,000 signatures to get one of them on ballots this fall.

Hickenlooper said Friday he would “loudly” oppose any effort by supermarkets to push for an immediate change because he thinks it would be unfair to small liquor stores who have worked to build their businesses.

“I care about little guys,” he said.

Not all liquor stores oppose the bill. Tiffany Lough, co-general manager of the Liquor Mart in Boulder, says it gives the store the opportunity to compete in a larger market because it will be able to sell items like chips that are not allowed under the current law.

“It’s putting us on a more level playing field,” she said. “We are very excited about this opportunity, and it is the best-case option for local, small business owners in the liquor industry.”

In this June 9, 2016 photo, customers shop for beer at Liquor Mart in Boulder, Colo. On June 10, Colorado’s governor signed a bill to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. The bill signed Friday by Gov. John Hickenlooper starts a 20-year phase-in for grocers to acquire liquor licenses, sometimes by paying for those held by neighboring liquor stores. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this June 9, 2016 photo, customers shop for beer at Liquor Mart in Boulder, Colo. On June 10, Colorado’s governor signed a bill to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. The bill signed Friday by Gov. John Hickenlooper starts a 20-year phase-in for grocers to acquire liquor licenses, sometimes by paying for those held by neighboring liquor stores. | AP Photo/Brennan Linsley; St. George News

Colorado has been debating beer in grocery stores for more than a quarter-century. Voters in 1982 overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure to allow full-strength beer in grocery stores. Since then, beer law has become a perennial topic of debate in the state Capitol.

Hickenlooper said the beer measure was his final bill signature of 2016.

Earlier in the day he signed into law measures including a new Office of Fantasy Sports to regulate fantasy online sports leagues that pay jackpots. Other bills that became law include a ban on marijuana edibles shaped like animals, fruits or people — in other words, a bill taking pot gummy bears off shelves — and a requirement that notary publics who serve the Spanish-speaking community tell their clients that they cannot practice immigration law.

Written by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press; Associated Press photographer Brennan Linsley contributed to this report from Boulder.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @APkristenwyatt

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

14 Comments

  • Chris June 11, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Frikkinloser.

  • ladybugavenger June 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I had no idea Colorado’s alcohol laws were like Utah. Now let’s get Utahs marijuana laws to be like Colorado. For one reason, make marijuana legal and go after real criminals. For example, corrupt court system.

    • Bob June 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      legalize meth now!

    • .... June 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Good luck with that ladybug, as long as the LDS faction runs that show it will never change. ..I’m sure there is a complete separation of church and state in Utah LOL !

  • 42214 June 11, 2016 at 11:42 am

    OMG! Full strength beer in a market. What would Jesus say? They probably sell it next to Hustler magazine located on the aisle of evil in the store.

    • Curtis June 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Not sure what Jesus would say about real beer. Now if it was wine Jesus would be cool with that.

    • .... June 12, 2016 at 1:10 am

      I’m sure they will have room on the aisle of sin for booze. nudie mags and bibles and book of Mormon along with FLDS reading material

    • .... June 12, 2016 at 10:55 am

      This is amazing ! now maybe Utah will legalize uncensored National Geographic magazines

  • Common Sense June 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    The lack of real beer was the only draw back to moving to wonderful southern Utah.

  • xbcmc059 June 11, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Lord, tell me it’s not so…….. Not the dreaded Full Strength Beer like the rest of the world drinks…..

    • .... June 12, 2016 at 10:52 am

      There are 2 kinds of beer, American beer and real beer

      • Real Life June 12, 2016 at 11:28 am

        Don’t stop now, you’re on a roll! #wheresdumpstersmeds?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.