Colorado's just concluded 2015 legislature did its best to improve life for the drinking class and those who serve us; addressing, for example, the lapsed license quandary.
I bought my house in 1979. A small liquor store sat a block away at 25th and Eliot. I didn't pay much attention. This was strategically unfortunate. Turns out, a block's about the right distance to drain a single serving bottle of liquor.
Walk in traffic bought a lot of single serving bottles at this store. Quite a few of those bottles ended up in my yard. Disgruntled though I might be, I couldn't say the store was doing anything wrong. I hoped the owners' advancing age would eventually close the place. I was wrong. Younger folks bought it. I continued to collect small bottles.
The state liquor enforcement agency mails annual renewal notices to licensees. Last year, the state forgot to mail some of the notices. The store down the street failed to renew on time. By the time they and enforcement figured it all out, it was too late. Their license had expired. They had to close. They applied for a new license. Neighborhood opposition was overwhelming. They withdrew the application.
H.B. 15-1202 creates a grace period. Delinquent licensees can pay a penalty and renew late. That's fair. But I haven't picked up any little bottles in a long time. I like that.
Here's a few more examples:
• Tiring of brew pubs? Asking what's next? Try a small batch distillery pub opening soon on a corner near you. Courtesy of H.B. 15-1204.
• To sell booze to the public, Colorado has traditionally required proof that the neighborhood "needs and desires" another establishment. This can be challenging. Earlier this century we loosened the rules. We allowed Colorado wineries, distilleries and wholesalers to set up "sales rooms" without a brain damaging needs and desires hearing. Colorado now has 362 sales rooms. For the most part they're limited to selling their own alcohol product, with some food.
HB15-1217 tightens things up a very little. If the local authority says the proposed sales room will impact traffic, noise or other neighborhood concerns, the state can reject the application.
• Gonna finish that bottle of Ripple? Until a few years ago, a patron couldn't take any alcohol away from a Colorado bar or restaurant. Then we allowed customers to re-cork and remove one opened bottle of wine. H.B. 15-1244 adds Colorado's 165 private clubs to the list. And in a similar vein, H.B. 15- 1192 adds some prospective participants to common consumption area entertainment districts - beer and wine licensees, sales rooms and limited wineries.