Bar owners and liquor stores that can’t buy more alcohol because of the state shutdown are still out of luck, following a ruling today by Judge Kathleen Gearin.
But if the state budget agreement holds and the shutdown ends soon, those retailers finding themselves short of booze should be back in business.
All the state’s retail purveyors of alcoholic goods need a “buyer’s card” in order to get inventory from wholesalers, but the state workers who update the cards aren’t working during the state budget shutdown. So hundreds of bars and liquor stores are caught in a bind; some have already paid for their cards, but state workers didn’t process the paperwork in time, so they still can’t buy.
Gearin agreed with the decision by special master Kathleen Blatz to deny the appeal by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and two establishments.
Blatz had said that permits and regulation of license holders are not core functions of government and should not be continued during the shutdown. She estimated that out of the state’s 6,000 liquor retailers, 300 establishments are already affected by this, and 400 more will be affected by Aug. 1.
Blatz said she received “compelling evidence that the inability to get a buyer’s card has a negative effect on small businesses that have done everything in their power to ensure compliance with the law but who, due to the government shutdown, now face a permanent loss to their livelihood.”
And she notes, as sadly as one can in a dry legal ruling: “The effects of the shutdown will be harmful, if not crippling, to many businesses, but the solution to this problem does not rest with the judicial branch but rather those branches charged with enacting the state’s budget.”