Ballot Could Poll Colorado Residents on Alcohol Sales


A ballot initiative is on file with the state of Colorado may give residents a chance to allow full strength beer and wine to be sold at grocery and convenience stores in the state, KRDO News reported. 


Currently, grocery and convenience stores can only sell beer with an alcohol content level of 3.2%.  Similar proposals have failed in the state legislature in the last two years. However, laws are relaxing.  In 2008, the state legislative passed a law allowing liquor stores to open on Sundays, which had been previously illegal.


“What was left out was the consumer,” the ballot initiative author Blake Harrison told KRDO News.  “What the consumer cares about is being able to do one-stop shopping.”


The proposal would allow full strength beer and wine to be sold only in 5% of the c-store or grocery store, 20% of the beer space would have to be designated for “craft beer” selections, and  20% of the wine space would have to be reserved for “boutique wines.”  No hard liquor would be allowed under the proposal.


“As a practical matter, we need to be careful in how we do this,” Harrison said.  “I think it would have a harder time getting through (with liquor on the proposal).  It may have more adverse effects on the liquor stores right away.”


According to Jeanne McAvoy, spokesperson with the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, an estimated 50% of liquor store sales come from beer, 30% from wine and 20% from spirits.  The estimates for big box liquor stores tend to split 33/33/33.


“If you add grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores into that mix, you’re adding a whole level of competition that doesn’t exist now, and it really isn’t necessary.  There’s no demand for it among Colorado voters,” said Colorado Licensed Beverage Association Spokesperson Ben Davis.  “Coloradoans aren’t looking for this convenience.  I don’t think they feel inconvenienced in the current scenario.”


The proposal also would extend the amount of liquor licenses an individual can own from one to three, and would allow liquor store owners to sell non-perishable food items in 5% of their space.  Currently, the only food legally available in liquor stores are limes, lemons and other drink-related food items.


Opponents fear specialty beer and wine selection would decline, resulting in job losses.


The proposal will be presented to the legislative council at the State Capitol on Dec. 1, and  Legislative Council will give suggestions to Harrison about the wording of the proposal. 


After that, Harrison would have to collect more than 76,000 voter signatures during six months or prior to July 12, 2010 (whichever comes first) to get the proposal on the ballot.


According to Harrison, if the 2010 state legislature passes a bill for full strength beer and wine for grocery/convenience stores, he’ll withdraw his proposal.




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