Put a cork in it? Repeal of Sunday liquor ban stalls in Legislature

An attempt at the state Legislature to end the ban on Sunday liquor sales in the state — a perennial effort that seemed to have some momentum this year — may have gone flat.

State Sen. Roger Reinert, a DFLer from Duluth, has been a big supporter of the bill to overturn the ban because many Duluth residents head to Wisconsin on Sundays to buy their beer and liquor. But he told the Duluth News Tribune that chances this legislative session are looking dim:

Anything is possible, but at this point I would guess I’m pessimistic about a full repeal happening this session. We’re (at) second deadline and it hasn’t had a hearing in either the House or the Senate.”

He expects there still will be efforts to repeal the ban on the House and Senate floors, even without committee approvals.

Many in the liquor lobby oppose Sunday sales, saying they’d have to be open an extra day and they’d likely sell the same amount in seven days as they do in six. Others, though, would welcome the chance to open for another day of sales, and say those who want to take Sunday off still could.

There has been some liquor action at the Capitol, the paper said, as committees consider allowing bloody Mary drinks to be sold at 8 a.m. Sundays instead of the current 10 a.m., and allowing beer-filled growlers to be sold on Sundays.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 03/24/2015 - 11:41 am.

    I’d like to know who exactly is causing this bill to stall in the Senate? Why hasn’t it had a hearing? Those who are causing this bill to fail should be recognized so their constituents can get on their cause for not supporting a repeal of an ancient prohibition-era law.

    • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 03/25/2015 - 11:46 am.

      Kind of embarrassing

      I lived in California for a few decades before returning to Minnesota, where the liquor laws are strange and outdated. No sales after 10 pm and none on Sundays? Good grief. In California, every supermarket carries beer, wine and liquor. It can be purchased seven days a week from 6 AM to 2 AM (at which hour the bars close) and everyone is just fine with that.

  2. Submitted by Matt Brillhart on 03/24/2015 - 04:32 pm.

    Committee Chairs, of course

    Well first off, you’ve got Majority Leader Tom Bakk, who opposes any changes.

    The liquor bill goes through a couple of committees, namely Commerce and Taxes (maybe others too, I’m no expert). So there you’ve got Jim Metzen and Rod Skoe. Both of them ought to be replaced, but they’re both in safe seats so it would have to be an internal challenge from the DFL. Really though, this change could take a while as older legislators are gradually replaced with younger ones, who trend libertarian on this issue (in both parties). The DFL is certain to retain the state senate in 2016, so voters in those districts should be ready to field challengers or take those legislators to task for their continued backwards thinking on this issue. And for the love of Minnesota, The Bakk has got to go. Don’t really care if he gets reelected, but good grief, Senate DFLers have got to pick a better leader for the 2017 session.

    All that said, as the article notes, “Full Repeal” will continue to be offered as a floor amendment in both houses, bypassing the committee process. However, those amendments have failed by wide margins in recent years. This year the vote will be closer than ever, but I’d guess that it will still fall short in both the House and Senate.

    On the bright side, it really looks like we’re going to get Sunday growler sales. What advocates ought to do then is stock up on Growlers on Sunday and start boycotting liquor stores on Mondays and Tuesdays. We’ll see how the liquor store lobby likes that!

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