Lawmakers debate allowing 18-year-olds to sell alcohol in Colorado

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DENVER -- How old should you be to sell alcohol?

That's the question before Colorado lawmakers as they debate a massive "beer bill" just days before the end of session.

The debate is sparked by "3.2" beer going away in the state in January.

According to state law, any seller of 3.2 beer would be allowed to sell full strength beer - potentially allowing over 1,500 stores to become full strength beer sellers.

Proposed legislation would require employees at convenience stores and grocery stores to be 21 to sell beer. That's the current age you have to be to sell alcohol in a liquor store.

That is creating a problem for convenience store owners.

"It's kinda' unfair that I can't hire someone between the age of 18-20," Anita  Masih, a Conoco operator in Colorado said.

"If we do get a license to sell alcohol that employee can't work. I would have to fire them," Masih said.

The lobbying appears to be working -- for now.

Late Friday, an amendment passed allowing an 18-year-old to sell alcohol at convenience stores. You would still have to be 21 to deliver alcohol under an amendment.

"21,723 of those are people under the age of 21 who were killed fighting for our country and you're going to tell me they can't sell a beer?" Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-El Paso) said.

Landgraf's comments helped encourage some Democrats to vote for the amendment -- heavy emphasis was placed on the impact in rural Colorado where the only person available to work at a convenience store might be an 18-year-old.

Those supportive of the 21-year-old requirement were livid Friday night.

"I think its a bad idea," Jacqui Shumway, a parent advocate said. Shumway testified against the age change.

"I'm just worried we are going to see more underage drinking. It's already bad enough," Shumway went on to say.

The legislation -- which is contentious -- is still expected to be amended before any final vote is taken, and time is winding down for substantive debate on the subject. The 2018 legislative session ends on Wednesday.

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