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Colorado lawmakers craft a deal on beer sales at grocery stores

By: Colorado Politics
May 10, 2018 Updated: May 11, 2018 at 11:11 am
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In this photo taken April 6, 2016, Brett Jones, a sales representative with High Country Beverage, stocks 3.2-percent alcohol content beer at a Safeway store in Fort Collins. (Valerie Mosley/The Coloradoan via AP)

Colorado legislators toasted a compromise over beer sales late Wednesday, passing a bill on the final night of their 2018 legislative session.

Grocery and convenience stores, which have only been able to sell low-strength beer for decades, will be allowed to sell full-strength beer starting next January under a 2016 law. Senate Bill 243, adopted on the legislative session's last day, sets guidelines for those sales.

The final compromise will allow 18- to 21-year-olds to sell beer in those stores, as well as liquor stores, even though Coloradans have to be 21 to buy beer.

SB 243 also requires grocery and convenience stores to use their own employees to deliver beer to customers.

And it sets a 500-foot distance between stores that sell beer and the same distance between stores that sell beer and schools.

The House and Senate both approved the compromise late Wednesday night. The Senate gave its final approval to the bipartisan measure by a 28-7 vote after the House voted 40-24 in favor of a recrafted version.

As Colorado Politics' Marianne Goodland has reported, the bill has been a political football tossed between big grocery and convenience stores, and small mom-and-pop liquor stores and craft brewers, since its introduction on April 16.

Colorado has limited the ability of all but a handful of grocery and convenience stores to sell anything other than 3.2 percent-alcohol beer since the days of Prohibition. In 2016 lawmakers finally approved a measure that would allow all grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer beginning next year.

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