DENVER - Despite opposition by the state€™s convenience stores, the Colorado Senate Local Government and Energy Committee approved a bill that would let restaurants serve low-alcohol beer to its patrons for on-premises consumption, the Colorado Statesman reports.
Sponsored by Sens. Betty Boyd and Jean White, and supported by the Colorado Restaurant Association, the legislation also permits all holders of liquor licenses to sell the low-alcohol beer. The full Senate will now consider the bill.
Sen. Bill Cadman, who voted in favor of the measure, said the bill shouldn€™t pit convenience stores against restaurants because the customers are not in competition with each other. Under the coalition Coloradans for Convenience, the proposal€™s opponents argued that current alcohol laws forbid convenience stores from selling full-strength beer. Changing that has not been successful in recent legislative sessions.
Also at play is a new law that requires light beer and higher malt varieties to be labeled and for the liquor code to be enforced. Convenience stores are calling for restaurants to be stopped from selling low-alcohol beer since the retailers can€™t sell full-strength beer.
"The proponents of this bill€"restaurants, craft brewpubs, casino€™s, limo drivers and racetracks€"are making the argument that off-premise and on-premise retailers deserve to be treated differently. That is confusing and hypocritical to convenience store operators in Colorado who have watched the Craft Brewer and the Craft Brewpub industry in particular, along with the restaurant association, oppose our effort to serve our customers the products they want, primarily full-strength beer," Grier W. Bailey, manager of government affairs for the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, told NACS Daily.
"The groups representing the proponents of the bill do not have some constitutional or moral monopoly on customer service," said Bailey. "Because Colorado has a single subject rule that prohibits a possible amendment for off-premise retailers, we highlighted the lack of comprehensive justice and reform that is needed through this hearing and our operators did a great job doing it. This bill, in its current form, has a long way to go and we wouldn€™t be surprised if a comprehensive fix is forthcoming."