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Colorado voters will decide 3 alcohol-related ballot measures in November

Initiatives for wine sales in grocery stores, third-party alcohol delivery, number of liquor store locations will all be decided
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced Friday that three alcohol-related ballot measures have qualified for the November ballot. (The Colorado Sun file)

Colorado voters will have a chance in November to weigh in on the state’s long-running alcohol-policy war.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced Friday that three ballot measures that would change booze policy in the state – including one that would let grocery stores sell wine – have qualified for the November ballot after their supporters collected a sufficient number of voter signatures.

These measures qualified:

  • Initiative 96, which would open the door for liquor retailers to be able to open an unlimited number of stores in Colorado starting in 2037.
  • Initiative 121, which would let retailers who have a license to sell beer, such as grocery stores, also sell wine.
  • Initiative 122, which would let third-party services deliver alcohol.

A fourth alcohol-policy measure, Initiative 135, which would have required local approval for liquor license changes in an effort to slow down grocery stores’ ability to begin selling wine in addition to beer, failed to make the ballot after its supporters didn’t turn in the signatures they had collected.

Millions of dollars are already being spent in support of initiatives 96, 121 and 122, including nearly $2 million from U.S. Rep. David Trone and his brother, Robert, who own the national Total Wine & More chain. The Trones are supporting Initiative 96, which would let Total Wine open more stores in Colorado.

Right now, liquor retailers are allowed to open only three stores in Colorado. Total Wine has two Colorado stores and will soon open a third. Small retail liquor stores are fiercely opposed to the measure.

Already on the ballot was Initiative 58, a measure to decriminalize and regulate the use of “magic” mushrooms, and Initiative 31, a measure asking voters to reduce the state income tax rate to 4.4% from 4.55%.

Additionally, Initiative 108 qualified for the ballot last week. It would divert 0.1% of taxable income from the general fund to the state affordable housing fund, which would represent about $270 million in its first year. While taxes wouldn’t be raised under the proposal, the amount of money available for Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds would be reduced by whatever is set aside for the housing fund.

The Legislature referred two statutory measures to the ballot this year, including one that would reduce state income tax deductions for people with higher incomes and use the savings to provide free K-12 school meals for all students. The other would require detailed information about how ballot measures changing the income tax rate would affect various income brackets to be more prominently displayed to voters.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.