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  • 06 May 2010 12:38 AM | Anonymous

    The House kills a measure that would widen alcohol sales to let supermarkets expand offerings.

    Source: The Denver Post

    By Jessica Fender

    Posted: 05/06/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

    Colorado shoppers are much less likely to find beer, wine and liquor on supermarket shelves after a House committee on Wednesday killed a bill to expand alcohol sales and the prospects dimmed for two similarly aimed ballot initiatives.

     

    It was the third time in as many years that a coalition of convenience stores, supermarkets and consumer advocates has been thwarted in the legislature.

     

    House Bill 1279 would have allowed a supermarket to buy the license of a neighboring liquor store from its owners in the industry's most creative attempt yet to secure the beverages for their stores.

     

    Calling herself "a realistic person," bill sponsor Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said she didn't have the votes to pass HB 1279 and asked the House Finance Committee to kill it. The vote was quick and unanimous.

     

    Almost as quickly, the threat of two sales-expanding ballot initiatives that for months loomed large over the legislative debate seemed to fade, with powerhouse backers saying they've not yet decided to throw their full weight behind them.

     

    Members of the Colorado Retail Council, one of the main backers of initiatives 48 and 65, are pausing to consider their options in the wake of the bill's death, president Chris Howes said.

    There's a lot at stake.

     

    "We're going to wait for the session to be over. We've got a little bit of time to understand the options we have before us," Howes said. "There's no doubt about it. If you lose in the fall, I don't think you'll have many legislators interested in running the bill next year."

     

    Initiative 48 would end 3.2 percent low-alcohol beer; allow grocery stores to sell all forms of alcohol; allow convenience stores to sell stronger beer; and allow liquor-store proprietors to own more than one location.

     

    Initiative 65 would only allow grocery stores to sell all forms of alcohol.

     

    Under current rules, most grocery stores can sell only low-alcohol beer, with the full panoply of adult beverages allowed in just one store per chain. HB 1279 would have changed that.

    A second bill to allow full-strength suds in convenience stores - now also limited to only low-alcohol beer - died in the same committee earlier this year.

     

    But both proposals progressed further than previous bills aimed at expanding alcohol sales.

     

    Liquor-store advocates Wednesday celebrated the death of HB 1279 in the hall outside the committee room.

     

    The stores have waged war against changes to Colorado's liquor law by arguing that expanding sales would provide easier access to minors and put mom-and-pop liquor stores out of business.

     

    Their advocates said they'd welcome a ballot initiative to put the question to rest.

     

    "We're tan, rested and ready," said Jeanne McEvoy, president of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. "I don't get the feeling they're going (with the initiative). There's no public support for it."

    Too much of the legislative debate focused on the effects on businesses, when the real winners or losers are consumers who want greater convenience, said Blake Harrison, who filed initiatives 48 and 65.

    Still, with the statutory July 12 deadline looming, Harrison said he won't be able to gather the 76,047 signatures required to make the ballot without the help of the still-undecided grocers and the business community.

     

    "It really has become a fight between the grocery stores and the liquor stores. Meanwhile, the people aren't getting what they want and haven't been for a long time," Harrison said. "It's perfect for a ballot initiative. That's what the process is there for."

     

  • 20 Mar 2010 12:45 AM | Anonymous

    The chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee called me to say that the Grocery Store Liquor License bill – HB 2697 – will not be worked by the Committee.  I know that many of you have heard from your legislators, who have also called to give you the good news.

     

    This means that the bill will sit in committee and die when the Legislature ends business in May.  There is still a chance that someone might attempt to amend this issue or the strong beer issue into a different bill on the floor of the House when they are working bills next week.  However, I am hopeful that even the legislators who would like to support the grocery stores and the convenience stores understand that these bills would need significant amendments.

     

    This was the last week for regular committee meetings.  Next week, the House and Senate will be working on the floor most of each day to try to work through all of the bills that have been passed by committees.  Then, conference committees will meet to hash out the differences between Senate and House bills and they will again be voted on by each chamber.  The Legislature will break around April 2 or 3 and come back at the end of April for the veto session.

     

    PLEASE THANK THESE LEGISLATORS!!!

     

    It is very important to thank the legislators on the House Commerce and Labor Committee for not passing HB 2697.  Those committee members are: Steve Brunk, John Grange, Elaine Bowers, Phil Hermanson, Aaron Jack, Dan Kerschen, Joann Pottorff, Willie Prescott, Jill Quigley, Scott Schwab, Gene Suellentrop, Bill Wolf, Ron Worley, Louis Ruiz, Delia Garcia, Sean Gatewood, Bob Grant, Broderick, Henderson, Pat Maloney, Dale Swenson, Annie Tietze.  Although Scott Schwab has said that he does support the grocery stores – even he was cooperative in not bringing the bill to a vote.  He has said to me personally that he does not want to pass anything that will put his local stores – particularly Brian Flanery and Judy Ensminger – out of business.

     

    This is also a good time to contact your own legislators to say that these bills have not come out of the House committees and that you would appreciate if they will keep their ears open for any rumors that these or other liquor issues will pop up on the floor.

     

    Please take a moment to send these messages right now.  If you have been corresponding with your legislators by e-mail – send them an e-mail.  Or send them a personal note to:  Representative ______________________, Kansas Statehouse, 300 SW 10th Street, Topeka, KS  66612.

     

    It is so important for your legislators to know that you appreciate the good things that happen, and that you won’t only be calling them when things are looking bad.

     

    Thank you all for your very hard work on these issues.

     

     

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