The escalating war over full-strength beer sales took a new turn today at the Colorado Capitol after a rural Republican senator introduced a bill that would make it harder for grocers and convenience stores to add shelf space and more kinds of malt beverages.
The measure also would create a new license for those stores that want to continue to continue selling alcohol.
Senate Bill 198, from state Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, arrived about three weeks after a bipartisan pair of Senate leaders floated the draft of a bill to add new regulations to stores moving up from low-strength to full-strength beer on Jan. 1. That move set off a maelstrom of complaints from grocers, alcohol distributors, brewers and others.
A 2016 bill that allowed grocers to purchase more than one license per chain to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits also stated that the low-strength “3.2 beer” they’ve sold since Prohibition ended can be replaced by full-strength beer next year.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker and Democratic Minority Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver are seeking through their effort to limit sales by under-aged clerks, deliveries by grocers and other practices that would be legal without such a bill passing.
Scott’s bill, introduced late Wednesday, incorporates some of those ideas, such as requiring clerks to be 21 to sell full-strength beer and other malt liquor. But it goes much further in other areas, leading to even louder complaints today from some groups that already have opposed the yet-to-be-introduced bill from Holbert and Guzman.