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Governor signs grocery store liquor bill, making it law

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DENVER -- On the last day Gov. John Hickenlooper is allowed to make decisions regarding laws passed during the General Assembly session, he has decided what to do regarding the controversial bill regarding more liquor and beer in grocery stores.

The governor signed the bill Friday afternoon.

"This is not perfect I would have preferred the status quo if it was my choice - but in the end, the independent liquor stores made a strong argument," Hickenlooper said.

The measure, which passed with bipartisan support during the final days of session in May, calls for the largest expansion of alcohol sales in Colorado in decades.

Under the bill, grocery chains could add four new locations each starting next year. Over the course of the next several years, more locations could be added and by 2037 there would be no limit.

Additional items include repealing the state's 3.2 beer law by 2019.

Sources initially told FOX31 Denver that the Governor was considering allowing the bill to become law without signing or vetoing it. The Governor rejected that during a press conference.

The question now is whether a ballot initiative will move forward in November allowing full-strength beer in every grocery store next year.

The Governor committed to campaigning against it.

"My hope is they won't move forward with the initiative because I'll have to go out and be an adversary," Hickenlooper said.

Your Choice Colorado issued this statement in response:

"It is deeply disappointing that Governor Hickenlooper signed this flawed and unconstitutional legislation that only protects a handful of big liquor stores and liquor lobbyists to become law. First the legislature, and now the Governor, have denied Coloradan consumers what they want and deserve: real beer AND wine in grocery stores. Your Choice Colorado will continue to weigh our options to keep standing by the voters, giving them the ability to make their voices heard amidst this broken system—whether through a legal challenge to this sloppy bill or as planned, taking it to the ballot in 2016.

It will not stand the test of time. Colorado voters and consumers will not allow it."

The governor signed other bills into law on Friday, including an expansion of the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases as well as a suicide prevention bill.