A bill that makes it easier for convenience stores to sell hard liquor passed in the Iowa Senate Wednesday on a 33 to 14. The Senate turned down an effort to let Des Moines City council approve the new liquor licenses for stores in crime-ridden neighborhoods. If the Governor Branstad signs the bill into law, convenience stores will no longer be required to have a separate entrance to the area where they sell the hard liquor.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, voted against the bill. She says it will make it too easy for underage customers to buy liquor. “Having worked on prevention for a number of years, this will provide more opportunity for abuse for our teens,” Boettger says.
Only about 50 convenience stores sell hard liquor now. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission says it’s hard to estimate how many more stores would begin selling distilled spirits if the bill becomes law.
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, argued that the city council should be allowed to approve the new liquor licenses.
McCoy says the city elected officials know where the problems are. But the bill’s advocates say it’s too expensive for mom and pop stores in smaller communities to provide the separate entrances, and they say the change will be good for competition.
Senator Brian Schoenjahn, a Democrat from Arlington, says the law won’t change the situation in troubled neighborhoods. “And these problems occur there already, convenience stores already sell beer,” Schoenjahn says.
A spokesman for Governor Branstad says he’s studying the bill and hasn’t decided whether to support or oppose it.