Denver Business Journal — After months of tense discussions that looked often like they were more likely to end in a lawsuit than in legislation, House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise late Wednesday on a bill that largely would give grocery and convenience stores freedom as they begin to sell full-strength beer in 2019 but also would put guardrails on areas like deliveries and below-cost sales that liquor stores sought badly.

Senate Bill 243, as passed by the Colorado Legislature on the final day of its 2018 session, paves the way for chain stores that have sold only low-strength beer since the end of Prohibition to begin putting full-strength beer on their shelves on Jan. 1 — a transition that was agreed to in a deal on a separate bill that passed on the final day of the 2016 legislative session. It also allows Walmart to add as many as 19 more locations that also can sell wine and spirits, as grocery chains can, in the next 19 years.

The future of the bill, sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker and Democratic Assistant Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver, looked in peril on Friday, when Republicans gutted many of its provisions intended to restrict the spread of full-strength beer to 3,000 new locations, as liquor-store industry leaders argued this would devastate the 1,600 independently owned stores in the state. Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, called some restrictions in the bill “offensive and abhorrent” and, with others, threatened to kill the bill if House sponsors took out amendments removing those restrictions — all while the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association threatened to sue if full-strength beer sales were set to begin in January without any regulations.

Read more at the Denver Business Journal: https://bit.ly/2wuIiOv