A bill that would make it easier for Iowa convenience stores to sell hard liquor has passed the Iowa House by a wide margin with little discussion. Current Iowa law says if you sell gasoline, you can sell hard liquor, but only in an area walled off from the rest of the establishment.
The convenience stores have lobbied to remove that restriction in the last two legislative sessions only to see the bills die in the House. Stu Iverson, as Republican from Clarion, managed the miscellaneous bill that includes the convenience store change.
“This bill would allow them to use a common entrance and use the same cash register, if they chose to sell liquor, it would not have to be in a separate room with a separate cash register. That’s the only difference,” Iverson says.
The bill would let convenience stores sell distilled spirits the same way they sell beer, at the same register where they sell everything else. Iverson says the convenience stores say it does not make a lot of sense to keep a separate cash register, a separate entrance, a separate person to handle the hard liquor sales.
Critics of teen drinking opposed the change in the past, so did grocery stores who feared the competition. Lawmakers say grocers have dropped their opposition as this year’s version of the bill includes a new fee structure to protect retailers’ profits.