DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law on Friday allowing full-strength beer and wine to be sold in liquor stores.
“This does seem to be the bill that I was waiting for so just to be clear, moments ago I signed said bill 197. We obviously went through this process, I personally put as much time into this as almost anything because I already knew so much about it,” said Hickenlooper from the state Capitol on Friday.
Lawmakers passed the bill in the final hours of the session. The bill allows grocery store chains 20 liquor licenses each over the next 20 years.
For every license the stores get from the state, the stores must buy two licenses from existing liquor stores.
“In the end I was persuaded by the majority, probably a significant majority of the independent liquor store owners, who wanted us to sign this bill, which actually increases their competition, but makes a compromise in providing convenience, certainly around beer,” said Hickenlooper.
If a liquor store is within 1,500 feet of a grocery store and refuses to sell its license, the store is out of luck.
Liquor stores could start selling food and other products with the new law.
The big grocery stores had been in the process of trying to get an initiative on the ballot to allow sales of these items much sooner without so many limitations. The bill’s sponsor, Pat Steadman, told CBS4 he thought the initiatives were going away, but a spokesperson for Your Choice Colorado told CBS4 that they haven’t decided yet and are still gathering signatures.
Your Choice Colorado Campaign Manager Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa released this statement after the governor signed the bill into law: It is deeply disappointing that Governor Hickenlooper signed this flawed and unconstitutional legislation that only protects a handful of big liquor stores and liquor lobbyists to become law. First the legislature, and now the Governor, have denied Coloradan consumers what they want and deserve: real beer AND wine in grocery stores. Your Choice Colorado will continue to weigh our options to keep standing by the voters, giving them the ability to make their voices heard amidst this broken system—whether through a legal challenge to this sloppy bill or as planned, taking it to the ballot in 2016. It will not stand the test of time. Colorado voters and consumers will not allow it.