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Sunday growler sales sidetracks liquor bill in Senate

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The author of a wide-ranging liquor bill in the Minnesota Senate pulled the measure from consideration after the chamber added a provision allowing taprooms to sell growlers on Sundays, MPR News reports.

Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, pulled the omnibus bill after the Senate voted 43-21 in favor of Sunday sales of growlers -- refillable half-gallon bottles of beer that customers typically take home. Metzen's action freezes debate on the measure for the time being.

The vote on Sunday growler sales came after senators overwhelmingly opposed a measure to allow liquor stores to open on Sundays. Some opponents of Sunday liquor sales, including Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, say the growler provision would be the first step on a slippery slope toward full Sunday sales.

“The real goal is repeal of the Sunday liquor prohibition. And you can just see the steps from growlers to six packs to kegs and cases of wine," Skoe said during floor debate, according to the Star Tribune.

Many small liquor store operators want to keep the Sunday sales ban in place, saying the additional revenue they'd bring in on a Sunday would not be significant enough to cover the additional operating costs.

The Teamsters Union has also come out in opposition to Sunday growler sales, saying it would force them to reopen labor contracts with beer and alcohol distributors.

Supporters say Sunday growler sales would give an economic boost to Minnesota's burgeoning craft beer industry.

The liquor bill includes other provisions that are in jeopardy if it doesn't come back for debate before the end of the session in two weeks, including a reauthorization of alcohol sales at TCF Bank stadium this fall, and extension of bar hours during the All-Star Game week in mid-July in Minneapolis.

A companion bill awaits action in the House.

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