Some say hard liquor is already too convenient - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Some say hard liquor is already too convenient


A controversial bill regarding hard liquor sales at convenience stores is getting its share of opponents, including Waterloo's Director of Safety Services, Dan Trelka.

The measure has passed both the Iowa House and Senate, with supporters citing more revenue for Iowa. To sell hard liquor, gas stations would have to get a Class E liquor license at about $4,000 each. It now only needs Governor Branstad's signature to make it law.

In Waterloo there's been a lot of talk about reducing access to alcohol. Director Trelka released a statement regarding how easily accessible alcohol already is in his city.

He says, "It is the police officers, firefighters, and paramedics of Iowa's communities that are wading through the sweat, blood, urine, and alcohol to respond to the issues created by this dilemma."

Trelka goes on to say, "Research and success elsewhere shows that with certain changes in alcohol regulations at the state level, we can show success in the challenges municipalities are facing in regard to this issue."

Jeff Doughty, the owner of the 18th Street Conoco says he understands why some store owners want it to be a law.

"I know there's a lot of desire by other markets to consider because of shrinking margins in our industry, but my being a neighborhood store I just feel that it's not the image I want to have," said Doughty.

Although Doughty sells beer at his store, he says he's not willing to add hard liquor to his shelves.

"Most convenience stores traditionally carried beer and that's a much more acceptable product mix for the average convenience store I feel," said Doughty.

Right now liquor stores can sell hard liquor, but not on their main shelves. A wall must separate the hard liquor from other items and a separate cash register must be used to ring up those sales.

Director Trelka says to reduce problems associated with alcohol certain rules need to be put in place. He suggests making requirements that set minimum distance between alcohol outlets, as well as limiting new licenses for areas that already have outlets too close together.

Not everyone in Waterloo sees problems ahead.

Waterloo city councilman Steve Schmitt says this legislation would actually help Waterloo if its signed by Governor Branstad.

Schmitt says "Given the fact that most of these name brand convenience stores are in populated locations, they're in areas where police are regularly driving by. We think this actually might help us clean up issues here in Waterloo rather than make everything tougher. The more visibility that we have on that stuff I think that's definitely a win situation."


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