DENVER (CBS4)– A bill to put full-strength beer, wine and liquor in grocery stores across Colorado now awaits the governor’s signature.
Supporters, including distillers, small business owners and liquor store owners, gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday morning to urge Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign the bill into law.
The bill’s sponsors say the bill isn’t as complicated as the language suggests.
“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.
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.
After the bill passed earlier this month, Hickenlooper said it was confusing.
“To be honest, I don’t understand it. I talked to several legislators this morning and they couldn’t explain it to me either. So I’m not sure who does understand it yet outside the small army of lobbyists that were able to pass this through in the last five days,” said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper won’t be signing the bill into law this week because he still wants to do a little more research before deciding. He plans to meet with one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Pat Steadman, next week.
Hickenlooper will meet with the Brewer’s Association next week to discuss the impact of the bill.
The deadline to sign the bill into law is June 10.