2017 was a relatively quiet year on the legislative front for the Colorado liquor industry. While 2018 does not bring the same sweeping changes to the Colorado liquor industry that came in 2017, there are several modifications that businesses should understand.

While the Colorado liquor industry continues to adjust to the current and prepare for the upcoming changes resulting from SB16-197, most legislative changes in 2017 came in the form of ensuring continuity between similar licenses. Legislation was passed that returned the ability for tavern licensees and lodging and entertainment licensees to employ persons between the ages of 18 and 21, so long as the licensee regularly serves meals. The Colorado Legislature also codified a list of certain items that are not to be considered when determining sales percentages of retail liquor stores when determining alcohol vs. non-alcohol sales. The ability to make EBT cash withdrawals to occur at liquor licensed drugstores was also restored, and language was added to the liquor code to clarify that employees of retailers are permitted to place orders from its wholesalers.

The biggest changes came in creating a new liquor license, called a Campus Liquor Complex, for institutions of higher education, adding several public organizations as entities eligible to obtain a Special Event Permit, and limiting penalties for certain licensees. The Colorado Legislature helped manufacturers and wholesalers that have a retail tasting room by segregating penalties for minor violations in those tasting rooms from affecting the manufacturing and wholesaling abilities of those licensees.

There are several matters that affect only Denver businesses, but should be of note to other Colorado businesses, as these requirements are likely to spread to other jurisdictions. While Denver, historically, required all single-occupant restrooms to designate a gender for each restroom (family restrooms excepted), the city now requires that all single-occupant restrooms be designated as gender neutral. In most cases, this should only require updating signage to remove gender designations on single-occupant restrooms, these restrooms are now also required to have a lock on its exterior door. These requirements apply to all businesses in the city of Denver, and compliance is required by April 30. More information regarding this change can be found here.

The other major change affecting Denver liquor licensees is the new list of requirements for CO2 systems. These requirements apply to all businesses that use CO2 either in beverage dispensing, production, or any application requiring compressed gases. In some instances, this requires a permit, others, a new alarm system, and in some, major upgrades to compressed gas systems to ensure employee and patron safety. The requirements went into effect on January 1, 2017, and the Denver Fire Department has encouraged all businesses that use CO2 to consult with their suppliers and engineers to ensure compliance. A summary of the requirements with links to the actual code can be found here.

The above list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all legislative and regulatory matters that differ from 2017. Additionally, 2018 promises to be an active year at the Legislature, as the liquor industry prepares for the next wave of changes coming from SB16-197, mainly the elimination of the 3.2% beer designation on January 1, 2019. If you have any questions on the changes that may affect your license in 2018, or for updates on what modifications are coming, you may Contact Us to discuss your situation.