Governor Terry Branstad says he is still reviewing a bill that makes it easier for convenience stores to sell hard liquor, but at this point would sign it into law. The bill does away with the requirement that convenience stores have a separate area set up to sell hard liquor.

Opponents says the change could make it easier for people to liquor in areas where there have been other problems. Branstad says the change is similar to 1986 when the state got out of the liquor business and allowed grocery stores to sell it.

Branstad says it used to be very inconvenient (to purchase liquor), but he says even though they made it much more convenient to buy liquor in the grocery stores, consumption actually went down during that period of time. Others are worried it could make it easier for minors to get liquor. But Branstand says the stores are already required to check I-D’s to sell beer and cigarettes.

Branstad says he’s had some feedback on the bill, but nothing out of the ordinary. He says they will carefully review everything, “But I haven’t seen any compelling reason not to sign it.” Grocery stores had fought attempts to pass the bill in the past, but did not oppose it this time as it includes a provision for higher license fees for the convenience stores that want to sell liquor.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division says license fees would average over $4,000, and they estimate some 200 of the 2,200 stores statewide would seek the licenses. The bill passed the House without debate and passed the Senate by a wide margin.