Colorado Businesses Are Spending Big Money to Support Booze on Ballot Propositions
Colorado’s November election is here and there are three ballot propositions attracting the attention of big money. Proposition 124, 125 and 126 all deal with Colorado alcohol laws.
The Lamar Ledger reported that $20 million in funding has already been raised in support of these measures. Much of it comes from big businesses outside the state of Colorado.
Proposition 124 – additional liquor licenses
Prop 124 is backed by Coloradans for Consumer Choice and Retail Fairness. This proposition would allow the number of liquor licenses a retailer can hold to increase. The current law allows retailers to own three stores. If passed then the number would increase to eight licenses by December 2026 increasing incrementally to an unlimited number of licenses on or after January 2037.
Supporters of this proposition have raised $7.1 million which has mostly come from a subsidiary of Total Wine & More, Colorado Fine Wine & Spirits. This retailer is owned by U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Maryland), and his brother and currently has three locations and presumably hopes to expand because of support of this proposition.
Proposition 125 – the sale of wine in grocery stores and convenience stores
Colorado Politics reported that over $11 million was raised in support of Prop 125 and 126 as of Oct. 5. If Prop 125 is passed, it will allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell wine. The measure is supported by big companies like DoorDash, InstaCart and Target.
In contrast, the group opposing Prop 125, Keeping Colorado Local, has raised about $600 thousand. This group is made up of mostly local liquor stores and the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association.
Political Specialist Shaun Boyd of CBS spoke with local business owners to gain their perspective on these propositions. Boyd said, “Supporters of the ballot measure say it’s about convenience. Opponents say it’s about greed.”
The owner of Joy Wine & Spirits in Denver, Caroline Joy expressed her concern about the measure to expand where wine and liquor are sold in Colorado, Prop 125. Joy said, “sometimes people wonder why are we losing jobs. You are losing jobs because you are supporting these huge organizations instead of supporting small businesses.”
David Ross of Big Fella Wine and Spirits also opposes Prop 125, but supports Prop 124, saying “I just want all the big box retailers, the local retailers, I want it all to be on an even playing field. So, we have an opportunity to compete fairly.”
Proposition 126 – alcohol delivery
There is also Prop 126. This measure would allow retailers and liquor-licensed businesses to offer third-party delivery services. Keeping Colorado Local opposes this proposition. The organization argues the measure will increase access to alcohol by minors and other individuals who should not have alcohol delivered to them because neither the store nor the tech company would have liability for the sale and delivery.
The Colorado Restaurant Association supports Prop 126. According to The Gazette, President and Ceo of the CRA, Sonia Riggs said, “We have lobbied fiercely for this allowance since the onset of the pandemic. Now, after two-plus years of pandemic-related hardship, continued labor shortages, skyrocketing inflation and fuel prices, and supply chain disruptions, permanently securing alcohol to-go for restaurants and bars cannot come at a better time.”
Millions of the funds raised for these three propositions were spent to get the measures on the ballot and now millions more are being used to garner support.
However, the support for each of these measures appears split with some desiring the status quo while others see the potential for growth of their respective businesses. Regardless, it is apparent that big business is throwing a lot of money at these propositions.
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