DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper has until June 10 to decide if he will sign a bill into law that allows full-strength beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores.
In the meantime, he’s meeting with bill sponsors to get a better understanding of the bill which is the biggest rewrite of Colorado’s liquor code since prohibition.
The governor is a former brew pub owner and he said he wants to talk to his friends in the business, too.
Supporters, including distillers, small business owners and liquor store owners, gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday morning to urge Hickenlooper to sign the bill into law.
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.
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.
The bill’s sponsors say the bill isn’t as complicated as the language suggests and that it was a good compromise compared to two ballot measures that she claims would have destroyed 60 percent of liquor stores overnight.
“So the will of the people, they may not get the message the really reflects their will. They may want the convenience of purchasing things at the grocery store but I can tell you that our conversations and our liquor stores with those same consumers when they realize that the will of the people might devastate the small business, they may change their mind,” said Jean McEvoy with the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association.
McEvoy said the bill gives liquor store owners more options and instead of seeing that change overnight, it would be what proponents describe as a thoughtful and deliberate phased-in approach.
Matt Chandler with Your Choice Colorado said they aren’t backing down.
“As people have begun to understand what this bill does do and doesn’t do, we’re getting a lot more signatures on the street,” said Chandler.
He believes those people deserve to have a say on the ballot, “They want beer and wine in their grocery stores. They don’t want beer in 2019 and then maybe wine a few years later and then maybe liquor 10 years after that. They want it and they want it now. They’ve been saying that for the past decade.”