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Current Issues

SB 16-197

September 22, 2017 

Senate Bill 16-197 mandated the State Licensing Authority to convene a liquor industry working group to conduct the following:

• Develop an implementation process for grocery and convenience stores to apply for a license to sell malt liquor and fermented malt beverages contain at least one-half percent alcohol by volume starting January 1, 2019.
• Analyze the impact that removing the alcohol content limit on fermented malt beverages will have on the alcohol beverage industry as a whole, as well as on current retail licenses.
• Consider other legislative, regulatory, or administrative changes necessary to promote the three-tiered distribution system in Colorado.
• Examine and make recommendations regarding law governing tastings conducted on retail premises and the ability of retail liquor stores to sell growlers containing malt liquors.

Senate Bill 16-197 also mandated the Liquor Industry Working Group convene no later than August 1, 2016, and by January 1, 2018, report its findings and recommendations for an implementation process, including any legislative or administrative recommendations, to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee and the House of Representatives Business Affairs and Labor Committee, or their successor committees.

This Statutory Working Group voted on all recommendations submitted to be included in the final report on September 22, 2017. The vote count for each recommendation can be found using this link: SB 16-197 Statutory Working Group Recommendations Voting Results


May 11, 2016

Colorado Liquor Compromise


Today the Colorado General Assembly made history with the passage of SB 16-197, referred to as the Colorado Liquor Compromise.



After numerous failed attempts by grocery and convenience stores to pass legislation to repeal Colorado’s 3.2 beer sales and expand “Liquor Licensed Drug Stores” beyond the current allowable 1 license, a group called “Your Choice Colorado” formed. Walmart, Target, King Soopers, and Safeway provided funding for the effort. The group began pushing ballot measures to allow all grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine starting on July 1, 2017.  Walmart, King Soopers, and Safeway have pledged to donate approximately $8 million each for a total of at least $24 million to run the campaign. Target recently joined the effort along with the Colorado Retail Council so additional funds will be coming in.


The package liquor stores formed their own issue campaign “Keep Colorado Independent,” which is funded by the liquor retailers to fight against the grocery store ballot measure. That group has raised $4.5 million and hopes to raise $8M-$10 million to oppose “Your Choice Colorado”.  The latest polling they have done shows the grocery store ballot measure at approximately 50% support and 50% opposed.


Polling done separately by the Convenience Stores (C-Stores) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) indicated the likelihood of passage of the ballot measure at 60%.  DISCUS was extremely concerned with the disparate treatment of spirits in the “Your Choice Colorado” measure, so they counter-filed with two measures; one of which would add full strength beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores starting on July 1, 2017.  The C- Stores didn’t appreciate being left out of the removal of 3.2 beer restrictions, and as a result they filed a ballot measure requiring the elimination of 3.2 beer sales anywhere.


Since there was uncertainty on whether the ballot measures would pass or fail, Senator Pat Steadman introduced a bill that would: attempt to protect many liquor retailers; slow down the ability for grocery stores to sell alcohol; and motivate interests to remove their ballot measures. The Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, Coloradans for Safety, DISCUS, Korean Licensed Beverage Association, Craft Distillers Guild, Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of Colorado, Colorado Beer Distributors, Craft Brewers Guild and other organizations within the alcohol industry worked with Senator Steadman on making SB 16-197 as strong as possible. SB 16-197 received strong support, passing in the Senate with a bi-partisan vote of 31-4-0 and passed out of the House on a vote of 57-7-1.


Safeway/Albertsons & Kroger remain concerned about the bill, threatened several late night amendments and orchestrated an unsuccessful filibuster attempt. However, they have not lobbied in opposition, which provides our coalition with the belief that after the Governor signs the bill they may drop their ballot measures.  Walmart and Target have pledged to withdraw all financial support from the “Your Choice Colorado” group.  The C-Stores have pledged to drop their ballot measure, as has DISCUS.  Financial support for those measures will be directed against the Safeway/Albertsons, Kroger effort if they do not withdraw.


Summary of Senate Bill 16-197:


1) Liquor Licensed Drug Stores (Grocery Stores with a Pharmacy that can sell beer-wine-spirits):

  • No “liquor licensed drug store” with more than 20% of its gross retail sales coming from food products, may be issued license within a 1500 foot radius of another retail liquor license (i.e. liquor store) and no new retail liquor license may be issued within a 1500 foot radius of another existing retail liquor license or liquor licensed drug store regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. In cities or towns with a population of 10,000 or less, the radius restrictions increase to 3000 feet.
  • Any current retail liquor license within the radius restrictions of a proposed liquor licensed pharmacy must first be purchased by the grocery store chain and transferred to the proposed liquor licensed pharmacy.If there are no retail liquor licenses within the 1500 or 3000-foot radius, a proposed liquor licensed drug store must still purchase and transfer two (2) retail liquor licenses within the local jurisdiction before being approved. All current liquor licensed drug stores shall be grandfathered into current law.
  • Summary:Each grocery store chain will be allowed to have a total of twenty (20) liquor stores licenses over the course of the next 20 years (compared to 1 today). However, the grocery store chain must first purchase all current liquor stores within a 1500-foot radius of a grocery store that wants to have a liquor license before the grocery store is able to receive a license. If there are no retail liquor licenses within the 1500-foot radius, the grocery store must still purchase two (2) retail liquor licenses within the local jurisdiction before being allowed to have a liquor license.


2) Number of multiple liquor licensed pharmacies:

  • All liquor-licensed pharmacies in existence as of January 1, 2016 may expand to
  • A total of five (5) licenses in 2017
  • A total of eight (8) licenses in 2022
  • A total of thirteen (13) licenses in 2027
  • A total of twenty (20) licenses in 2032
  • Beginning in January 2037, liquor licensed pharmacies may have an unlimited number (this gives 20 years for marketplace to adjust and for retailers to recoup investments)
  • All stores:
  • Are required to go through local needs and desires approval from local government
  • Cannot allow self-checkout for alcohol sales
  • Must designate a local alcohol purchase manager to purchase locally produced products
  • Cannot sell alcohol below cost
  • Cannot “bulk purchase” across multiple stores – all stores buy individually from a wholesaler
  • Cannot store alcohol beverages off of the licenses premise
  • Must have a licensed wholesaler make all deliveries to the specific liquor licensed pharmacy
  • Must have a single manager handling all alcohol purchases
  • Employees under 21 cannot touch or sell alcohol
  • Must pay Cash upon Delivery
  • Discrimination in Wholesale sales prohibited

3) 3.2 Beer: 

  • Beginning on January 1, 2019, the law that defines “3.2 beer” is eliminated and all beer, regardless of alcohol content will be treated equally.
  • Between July 1, 2016 and January 1, 2019 there will be no changes to the existing 3.2 beer statute or the 3.2 licenses.
  • Between July 1, 2016 and January 1, 2018, the Colorado Liquor Industry Working Group (an industry group made up of distributors, retailers, law enforcement, MADD, convenience stores, grocery stores, LED, wholesalers, etc.) will meet and make recommendations to the Colorado Legislature on how the transition away from 3.2 beer sales and 3.2 beer licenses to “full-strength beer licenses” should occur and what laws and rules need to be put in place in order to have a fair and equitable transition on January 1, 2019. In addition, the Working Group will also make suggestions regarding the sale of “growlers” in liquor stores and how “tastings” can occur on a retail liquor license.

4) Portability of Retail Liquor Licenses:  

All retail liquor license holders as of January 1, 2016 will have “liquor license portability” (inside or outside their current jurisdiction) giving them the ability to move their retail liquor license for up to 3 years with local govt needs and desires approval.

5) Retail Liquor License Sales of non-alcoholic products:

On July 1, 2016, all retail liquor licenses will be allowed to have up to 20% of their business be the sale of non-alcohol products.  The current state list of permitted items is eliminated.

6) Multiple Retail liquor stores licenses:

  • Only licensed current retail liquor stores as of January 1, 2016, may acquire:
  • A total of two (2) licenses in 2017
  • A total of three (3) licenses in 2022; and
  • A total of four (4) in 2027
  • All stores must go through local government needs and desires approval

 7) Withdrawal of Proposed 2016 Ballot Measures:

  • In exchange for this historic compromise, the liquor retailers (CLBA and Coloradans for Safety), Walmart, Target, Colorado Convenience Store Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States will agree to remove their current 2016 ballot measures, oppose any other 2016 liquor related ballot measure and agree in concept that this legislation represents the transition of Colorado’s liquor industry until 2037.
  • The protections in SB 16-197 will still be in place even if they move forward with the ballot measure and it passes. That’s why SB-197 is so important.



Whats new?


This section contains various updates from industry, regulators and legislation. Check back regularly for new developments.


Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division Update

Dear Local Licensing Authorities and Liquor Stakeholders,

The Liquor Enforcement Division (LED) announces updated/new forms. This email has a lot of information for local licensing authorities and new liquor applicants in Colorado so please read in its entirety. The new forms include changes to the application fees effective 01/01/17.


Updated/New Forms

Due to SB16-197 and subsequent rule making, the LED is making the following notification concerning new and updated forms:
DR 8000 – Colorado Manager Permit Application for Liquor-Licensed Drugstores (LLDS) (New – now available)
DR 8001 – Additional Liquor-Licensed Drugstore Application (New – now available)

DR 8004 – Wholesaler Affidavit of Compliance (New – for Transfers – now available)

DR 8400 – Retail Liquor or 3.2% Renewal Application (Updated – available Jan 1, 2017)

DR 8403 – Fermented Malt Beverage (3.2%) License Application (Updated – available Jan 1, 2017)

DR 8404 – Liquor Retail License Application (Updated – now available)

DR 8409 – Liquor or 3.2% Fermented Malt Beverage Public Transportation, Wholesale, Manufacturer, Importer License Application (Updated – available Jan 1, 2017)

Directions for applicants and Local Licensing Authorities:

Colorado Manager Permit for a LLDS
 (DR8000) – The LED will not accept an application for a Colorado Manager Permit until January 1, 2017.

Additional Liquor-Licensed Drugstores
 (DR8001) – The LED will not accept an application for an additional liquor-licensed drugstore until January 1, 2017. A local licensing authority may decide to accept an application for an additional liquor-licensed drugstore prior to January 1, 2017. There is no reduced rate for the State Application fee for applications submitted to the local licensing authority prior to January 1, 2017 and all fees must be paid to the state. The LED will only accept an application for an additional liquor-licensed drugstore using the new form (DR8001).

Wholesaler Affidavit of Compliance (DR8004) – this form is now available and any transfer of a retail liquor license after January 1, 2017 must follow regulation 47-305, 1 C.C.R. 20-3-2 (effective January 1, 2017), which mandates the use of this form.

Retail Liquor License Application (DR8404) – The LED will only accept an application for an additional retail liquor store license using the updated form (DR8404) along with the new fees effective January 1, 2017. For all other new liquor license applications, the amount of the state fee is dependent on the date the local licensing authority receives the application. In order to be eligible for the lower fee in 2016, the local licensing authority must have a date stamp on the application that is prior to January 1, 2017. If no date stamp is found on the application the new fees that are effective January 1, 2017 will be due to the State.

New forms can be found at: https://www.colorado.gov/enforcement/liquor-forms


If you have any questions, please contact the LED at 303-205-2300.


Patrick Maroney

Liquor Enforcement Division


Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division Update

Dear Liquor Stakeholders,
The Liquor Enforcement Division (LED) is notifying liquor stakeholders that on December 22, 2016, the State Licensing Authority adopted an emergency rule to increase new liquor license applications fees effective January 1, 2017. The LED has posted information concerning the emergency rule on our website at: http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/2017-liquor-rules-process

On December 22. 2016, the LED also filed notice with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office concerning the permanent rule for increased fees. More information about the permanent rule making process can be found on our website at: http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/2017-liquor-rules-process

Patrick Maroney
Liquor Enforcement Division

1600 Broadway Suite 1350, Denver, CO 80202 | 303.860.1616