Blue Laws Survive Another Year
[Editor's note: I'd like to thank Blake Harrison for his efforts to remove this one economic impediment. I too hope the Colorado legislature will move to repeal the Blue Laws next year, not so the state can raise more taxes, but so people can be just a little more free. We need to restore our freedoms any way we can, even if that means stripping away one intrusive law at a time. To read more about this issue, see http://www.freecolorado.com/2002/06/bluelaws.html. -- Ari Armstrong, August 2, 2002]
For Immediate Release
Coloradans for Alcohol Choice, the group behind the initiative to allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays, was unable to gather enough signatures to get it on the November ballot. "We don't consider it a failure," said Blake Harrison, the organization's primary proponent. "We collected 45,000 signatures - about half of the required signatures with absolutely zero industry support."
The proposal was unable to get the required number of signatures simply because it could not find financial support. Every poll indicated that if the measure got on the ballot it would pass - but the sad reality of the initiative process is that money gets an initiative on the ballot, not public support. Since the liquor stores wanted to keep their special protection there was no money to finance the campaign.
Coloradans for Alcohol Choice is not giving up. The organization plans to reevaluate the situation and approach legislators to see if anyone is willing take on this issue. "I believe someone will - especially in light of the very favorable fiscal impact statement prepared by the state," said Harrison. The Legislative Counsel recently concluded that the initiative would have brought the state an additional $1,000,000 a year in added revenue. "In these tough budget times, it will be hard for legislators to continue to ignore the popular will and the positive economic impact this wanted change would bring," said Harrison.
If the organization cannot get the Sunday liquor sale prohibition passed in the 2003 legislature they plan to they plan to make another push in the 2004 election. The organizer's president plans to take a new approach. "We will ask grocery stores and other retailers if they are willing to support the cause if we add language, allowing Coloradans to purchase alcohol and food in the same place. Most people I approached said they wanted to be able to buy wine in the same place they buy their food and wanted to be able to buy a bag of chips with their full strength beer."
Harrison understands that this approach would likely be met with opposition from liquor stores, but believes some positive results could be realized. "Liquor stores could fill the need of corner markets and we could use the added revenue to fund alcohol treatment programs in the state. There are lots of options, including sun-setting the current law in a number of years to let liquor store owners recoup their investment and adapt to a new environment. If the liquor stores aren't involved in the process a large chain store, with more resources than a recent law school graduate, could bulldoze whatever law they want through the system."