"I know there's been a lot of people waiting for the result of this for a long time," said Ritter after signing the bill. "The headline writers have had quite a lot of fun with it: Blue law to fade to black; Putting a cork in the blue law."
Ritter signed the measure at 11:30 a.m. on Monday. The measure makes Colorado the 35th in the nation to permit Sunday alcohol sales at retail liquor stores.
"I think the reason for putting these in place had to do with people looking at Sundays and sort of protecting Sundays, in a sense, because it was the Christian Sabbath," said Ritter. "The argument in this building about doing away with this blue law was not so much about that. In fact, it wasn't at all about that."
Ritter says the reason for changing the law had to do with business interests.
"It was really about commercial interests," said Ritter. "So, we've taken a very close look at the commercial interests that really are at stake here."
Liquor store owners battled previous attempts to change the 75-year-old law, saying they would rather stay closed on Sundays.
They backed off this year and focused on defeating another proposal they liked even less, which would have allowed grocery stores to sell high-alcohol beer and wine.
"For consumers, this bill takes one step forward and a major leap backward," said grocery and convenience store coalition spokesman Sean Duffy.
Grocers and convenience store workers say the law will cut into their profits because they can only sell 3.2 beer, which they say is less desirable to consumers.
"This is like encouraging retailers to compete for light bulb business but legally limiting them to selling only candles," Duffy said. "If Colorado wants to truly benefit consumers, it's time to let all beer retailers sell the same products and let the market decide. It's not the government's job to pick winners and losers in a free economy."
A coalition of 1,000 convenience and grocery stores urged lawmakers to introduce a bill to abolish 3.2 beer requirements and allow them to sell full-strength beer.
"We are finalizing our due diligence efforts today," said Mark Larson, President of the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association which represents the state's convenience stores at the Capitol. "If we should fail to get anyone to take up the cause in the legislature, we will then take it before our legislative committee for their input. We have been compiling costs, talking to canvassers, and preparing a packet of information for our leadership...including a briefing on how many initiatives to anticipate this cycle. Obviously the clock on initiative filing is ticking down so we do have a sense of urgency in the decision-making process."
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