Letter To The Editor: Lack Of Liquor Licenses Killing Wyoming Communities

Dear Editor: I enjoy going to our small handful of local restaurants, and our suburban-cliche chains. But, man, it would be amazing to be part of the Front Range growth, instead of seeing the state line kill all movement.

July 13, 20225 min read

Richard johnson 7 12 22
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

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By Richard Johnson, Cheyenne

Dear Editor:

Cheyenne has “Floated the Keg”! In common speak this means the keg is empty or the party is over. 

For those of you who are following City Council meeting you realized we are “Tapped” out of even our Bar and Grill licenses at this point. That’s right, no potential growth in this sector. I have heard of two businesses in the last two weeks that wanted to expand in Cheyenne and we have to tell them no. 

One was a mom and pop wanting to branch out and another a corporate chain restaurant. A rhetorical question would be, “How can you be a candidate of growth or an elected official who promotes growth when you are handcuffed by state statute?

So what is the city up against in our uphill battle with the Legislature? In this case I revert back to a text I received from a Cheyenne resident. if you live in a community – Cheyenne – in which, due to the paucity of licenses, makes the value over six figures. 

In a state which claims to be hyper-libertarian this behavior appears to be a dissonance unless you realize that the current rules on licensing can easily be understood to be a property right protected by the fifth amendment. 

Believe me, the state’s liquor lobby may be the most effective and respected in the state. The representative of that lobby is not only smart and effective but is well liked on both sides of the aisle as well as among folks in town. 

We are talking about a law created as a compromise upon the end of prohibition that turned into a gold mine of non-capitalism … unintended consequences. Unless the legislature is willing to pony-up millions as compensation that needle won’t move.

Here is another text I received on where residents of this city reflect on this issue. Go ahead and insert the “I hate Colorado, if you like it there, move!” statement at any time while reading this piece.

I traveled 180 miles today round trip to get things that Cheyenne and Wyoming refuse to provide. On the way down I-25, I stopped at Centerra. Just south east of the I-25-34 interchange, the restaurants are just taking off. And, they all serve alcohol. We went a little further to the premium outlets by the Orchard. Again, restaurants, discount liquor warehouse. In fact, from Denver to Wellington, there is growth, and more growth, and more growth. And, it’s amazing. 

Then we have Cheyenne. Sure, I enjoy going to our small handful of local restaurants, and our suburban-cliche chains. But, man, it would be amazing to be part of the Front Range growth, instead of seeing the state line kill all movement. 

So, I’m frustrated. We have more people now than we did when I grew up. I’m just frustrated that every time we get ideas to grow this town, old rules, rural mindsets, and old money shut it down to protect their own interests. 

But, even with gas at almost $5, we saved money today traveling 180 miles. I hate saying that about my hometown. So, idiotic. I can vent. I’m frustrated.

I am sure we are in for quite a “Spirited” debate when the banking lobby speaks out on loans that licenses were collateral and as stated previously, the liquor lobby rears its head to keep things exactly the same in Wyoming. My only hope is that the Legislature realizes these archaic laws are stifling growth in even the small communities

When municipalities like Pine Bluffs, Lingle, and Upton reach out to me on this topic, it reflects that this isn’t just a Cheyenne issue. 

Out of Wyoming’s 99 municipalities, 55 of them are less than 500 people. It would make sense that a legislator to think Cheyenne and Casper are spoiled children with silver spoons in their mouths and we can’t relate to our smaller communities. 

Just this week, Albin unanimously voted to support the Laramie County Resolution on liquor reform. They were the last of the four Laramie County Municipalities that approved. Pine Bluffs and Burns approved the resolution in May. So not everything is doom and gloom on the horizon. We are all in this together.

This week I emailed nearly every elected official in the State of Wyoming to review the resolution approved by all municipalities in Laramie County. The interim legislative committee discussed this topic in Hulett on June 29-30, 2022. 

I encourage you all to email your legislators and show your support for economic growth. Once again, if you believe this is not the course of action the Cheyenne City Council should take or you speak in favor, I ask that you email me at rjohnson@cheyennecity.org


Richard Johnson

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