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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beer bill battle builds

Beer bill would allow minors to sell alcohol

Mothers Against Drunk Driving officially opposes dangerous bill

DENVER_ Local Colorado businesses urged lawmakers Thursday to stop a bill that would allow minors to sell alcohol without supervision and kill thousands of jobs in our state.

House Bill 1284, pushed by out-of-state chain stores like Safeway, 7-Eleven and Circle K, would change Colorado law to allow minors as young as 18 to sell full-strength alcohol.

The bill was officially opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Thursday.

“MADD opposes allowing more access to the sale of 12 percent alcohol ‘Alcopops,’” MADD Senior Vice President J.T Griffin wrote in a letter to Rep. Larry Liston. “These drinks are often marketed toward young people under the age of 2I in that they are in cans and bottles that resemble popular sport beverages or energy drinks. In addition, they come in fruit flavors which are designed to mask the flavor of

alcohol. These “Alcopops” are strong. One 24oz Alcopop contains as much alcohol as

(6) loz shots of hard liquor and the high alcohol content and cheap prices of these

Alcopops are aggressively marketed in convenience stores. These types of beverages should only be sold in approved liquor stores.”

Local independent retailers also opposed the bill.

“This bill is a give-away to out-of-state corporations that will cost Colorado thousands of jobs and clear the way for our minors to get alcohol from other minors,” said Jeanne McEvoy, President of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. “When it comes to underage drinking, this bill authorizes the fox guarding the henhouse.”

Fellow legislators questioned why a bill that would clearly harm Colorado’s businesses and economy would move forward in uncertain economic times.

“This bill is the sure to kill jobs and force hundreds of local Colorado businesses to close,” said Rep. James Kerr. “The last thing we should be doing in a recession is pushing bills we know will hurt Colorado businesses and send money off to out-of-state special interest.”

For years now, national big-box retailers and out-of-state convenience store chains have lobbied legislators to change alcohols sales laws despite public surveys that routinely show Coloradans are satisfied with the current laws. Acknowledging they cannot win a vote among Coloradans on the ballot, these out-of-state chains send an annual armada of lobbyist to the Capitol to repeatedly run the same failed bills.

The bill threatens hundreds of independent liquor storeowners – who by law can only own a single store. It also threatens Colorado’s craft beer industry that has flourished in under the state’s current laws.

“The current system of independent retailers has fostered a profitable structure for brewers and a diverse, beneficial market for beer lovers,” said John Carlson, head of the Colorado Brewers Guild. “If altered to allow chain stores to sell full-strength beer, those independent liquor stores that carry a diverse array of Colorado craft beer will be put out of business, reducing the public’s access to craft brewers’ products.”

Storeowners said the only groups this bill will “convenience” are minors and out-of-state companies.

“I’ve raised my four children in Colorado, and I take the responsibility of selling alcohol very seriously,” said Jim Archibald who owns Morgan Liquors and has 12 employees in Denver. “The changes these chain stores are pushing will put full-strength alcohol at the same place minors buy gas, and put responsible stores like mine out of business. I can’t imagine a clearer lose-lose scenario for Colorado.”

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