One last beer bill is still alive at the legislature -- which means legislators still have a chance to do the light stuff. Although proposals involving which stores can sell what beers have all died, Senate Bill 60 would allow restaurants and bars to sell any beer.
And that bill has passed through the Senate and is up for a vote today in the House Economic and Business Development Committee.
"We're hopeful of a fair hearing just on this bill's merits," Pete Meersman, head of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said last week after SB 60 passed out of the Senate. The CRA stayed neutral on all the other beer bills introduced this year, and also kept quiet during another brewhaha. Governor John Hickenlooper cut through some of the red tape created by a law passed last year that was supposed to strengthen the existing ban prohibiting liquor stores and restaurants from selling 3.2 beer, but the results wound up requiring costly tests from brewers to verify the alcohol content of their beers.
SB 60 doesn't deal with that requirement, and it also wouldn't affect what beer liquor stores can sell: The stipulation that convenience stores and grocery stores can only sell 3.2, or lower-alcohol malt beverages would stay, and liquor stores would only be able to sell beer that has a higher alcohol content than 3.2. Archaic as those post-Prohibition restrictions are, any kind of fix was too political to make it through the legislature this year.
Instead, SB 60 would simply do away with the most ridiculous part of that archaic law -- the one that prohibits restaurants and bars from selling low-alcohol brews.
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About time: Restaurants and bars have sustained enough collateral damage in the beer battle between liquor stores and convenience/grocery stores. There's no way that restaurants/bars are taking beer business away from any stores, whether liquor or convenience; when you want a drink and a snack, you're not deciding between a 3.2 Bud and Funyons at 7/Eleven or a Corona and happy-hour cheeseburger at McCormick's. But beyond that, it's nonsensical for this state to prohibit restaurateurs from selling their patrons beer that has less alcohol.
Here's hoping the House committee sees the light today.