House Votes Overwhelmingly to Protect Small Businesses, Colorado Craft Beer
Colorado small businesses ask for relief form annual attacks of out-of-state chain stores after four years of pushing the same failing bills
DENVER_ The Colorado House of Representatives overwhelmingly killed the latest effort – again – by out-of-state chain stores to close local small businesses and allow minors to sell full-strength alcohol.
House Bill 1284 represented the fourth-consecutive year grocery stores and convenience stores have tried to change Colorado’s beer laws as part of a national effort. These out-of-state interests do not have support from Coloradans to push a ballot initiative, so they have annually lobbied the Capitol instead. The House killed the bill in the name of small businesses by a resounding 18 to 47 vote.
“This is not a good bill for my district,” Rep. Rhonda Fields told her colleagues in the House. “My constituents do not want more access to full strength alcohol… My constituents want more access to jobs.”
Local Colorado businesses and craft brewers asked legislators to put a stop to the annual efforts that threaten jobs and harm the value of local business.
“Independent retailers and craft brewers represent a strong sector of our economy,” said Jeanne McEvoy, president of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. “But these business have had a damaging cloud over their business for four years because of this yearly effort. These bills will kill jobs, send money out of Colorado and allow minors to sell alcohol at convenience stores. It’s lose-lose proposition for Colorado, and we ask legislators to support local businesses by saying ‘no’ next year.
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.
Fellow legislators questioned why a bill that would clearly harm Colorado’s businesses and economy had moved 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.”
The bill threatened 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.”
And now for the Other Point of View
Retaining Old-Fashioned Beer Laws A Loss For Consumers
Death of Reform Measure Keeps Colorado Out of Step with 45 Other States Would End Dispute Over Beer Testing
(DENVER) – Stressing that the failure of a pro-consumer reform measure keeps Colorado lagging behind 45 other states that have archaic beer laws, the Colorado Retail Council today called today’s vote in the House “a win for higher prices, a lack of consumer choice and a loss for jobs and economic growth.”
“It’s a shame that once again the liquor store monopoly was successful in letting government – not consumers – continue to decide where adults can purchase beer,” said CRC President Chris Howes. “We have a patchwork of antiquated laws that have created confusion for our customers, and cost good-quality jobs. Consumers for yet another year will be subject to the seven-day-a-week regime of liquor store control over the beer, wine and spirits market. Sooner or later, consumers will win.”
Howes said the CRC supported House Bill 1284 — simple and straightforward reform legislation that would have updated the current system that now limits liquor stores and restaurants to selling only beer above 3.2 percent alcohol – and grocery and convenience stores to selling only beer at 3.2 percent alcohol or below.
“This 3.2 beer law is only on the books to hamstring our members from competing in the free market” Howes said. “Colorado leads the nation in so many ways, yet when it comes to common-sense beer laws, we trail virtually the entire nation. Monopolies are very tough to break but, eventually, they all do, and the liquor store monopoly is no exception.”
Editors note: None of the emails from the Kenny Group (managing the “for” campaign) listed any consumer groups among their advocates.