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Proposal for new retail liquor license law divides City Council, fails to pass

The law proposal failed to pass in a 5-4 vote.

From left, Cheyenne City Council members Tom Segrave, Bryan Cook, Richard Johnson and Scott Roybal sit inside the Cheyenne City Council Chambers during the governing body's meeting Monday, Feb. 12 inside the Cheyenne Municipal Building. (Jared Gendron/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On Monday night, members of the Cheyenne City Council deliberated whether to recommend or toss out an effort to get alcohol in grocery and convenience stores statewide. The majority decided to strike it down.

The city governing body discussed at its regular meeting a resolution to request that the Wyoming State Legislature allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery stores and convenience stores throughout the state. The resolution would only apply to products consisting of 5% alcohol volume or less.

If the city’s governing body passed the resolution, it would bring the law proposal to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and ask others to support the effort. If the majority of municipalities with WAM approve a resolution, then the proposal is added to the Wyoming State Legislature’s 2025 agenda, according to Mayor Patrick Collins.

Several councilmembers and a community member commented on the proposal. Susie Gudenkauf, owner of Outlaw Liquors in Cheyenne, stated she believed the proposal was a poor idea because it would exacerbate issues already present in the city: shoplifting and alcohol being sold to minors.

“If alcohol is that easily and readily available at a grocery store or convenience store, you will have lots of underaged drinking — more than we already do.”

The resolution’s sponsor, Councilmember Richard Johnson, said his intention was to create a new type of liquor license for lighter beers such as Budweiser or Sierra Nevada IPAs.

“We are not increasing the amount of alcohol consumers,” Johnson said. “It basically offers more opportunity and convenience for people to purchase it.”

Mark Rinne supported the resolution, stating that retail liquor licenses are an asset and creating more of them would benefit the community.

“With the cost of retail liquor licenses on the market nowadays, the only people who can afford those are large corporations,” Rinne said. “We’re gonna have more and more pressure to transfer retail licenses to them. … So if doing this takes some of the pressure off of the demand for retail licenses, I think we should support it.”

Pete Laybourn opposed the resolution, stating he believed there are already enough opportunities for community members to purchase alcohol.

“I think that we really need to think about the point that was raised — young people,” Laybourn said. “There’s plenty of opportunity. … There are a lot of serious issues that need attention. I don’t believe this one brings a benefit.”

Tom Segrave voted in favor of the proposed law.

“I would much rather support this than open containers in our downtown,” Segrave said. “I realize it’s a very long shot that it will ever get through the WAM and/or the Legislature, but I think it’s worth a try.”

Ken Esquibel opposed the proposal, stating the effort to pass it would be fraught and be “done on arrival at the Legislature” due to potential economic impacts.

Councilmembers Roybal, Esquibel, Aldrich, Laybourn and White voted in opposition to the resolution.