A big step for Sunday liquor sales: MN lawmakers will finally vote

The House is expected to vote Monday.
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Will Minnesotans finally be able to purchase liquor on Sundays? We might get one step closer this week.

The state House of Representatives is expected to vote Monday on a bill that would allow liquor sales in Minnesota on Sundays – a big step towards ending an 81-year-old dry spell.

The bill (with this amendment) would let liquor sales happen from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Other details: It would also ban alcohol deliveries to off-sale retailers on Sundays, and liquor stores would still be required to close on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

If passed, Sunday liquor sales would kick in on July 1 of this year.

Will it pass?

House Speaker Kurt Daudt told WCCO the bill has gained a lot of support, and he expects it to pass easily in the House.

“We think the reason it is catching stream is that there is broad grass roots support for it and pressure has been growing at the capitol in recent years,” Daudt said. “I think this is the year.”

But for a bill to become law, both the House and Senate have to approve the exact same bill – and the Star Tribune says many lawmakers in the Senate still favor the ban.

One of the Sunday sales bills in the Senate – S.F. 1080 – has a committee hearing Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., and Pioneer Press reporter Rachel Stasson Berger tweeted last week a source told her the bill has the votes to move it from committee to the Senate floor, where it's expected to be a close vote.

"At this point, I don't know if we have the votes in the Senate. I believe that it will be very close," Sen. Jeremy Miller, a Republican who introduced twobills last week that would lift the Sunday sales ban, told the Rochester Post Bulletin.

If the bill does manage to pass both the House and Senate, then the governor would have to sign it – which Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would do if the measure reaches his desk, the Pioneer Press noted.

Arguments for and against it

Minnesota is one of only 12 states that prohibit Sunday liquor sales.

For years, consumers and advocacy groups have been pushing to change Minnesota’s liquor laws, saying the antiquated regulations put the state at a disadvantage to its neighbors.

They have made some advances, like allowing breweries and brewpubs to sell growlers on Sundays, but not a full repeal of the ban.

Some lawmakers (see this list from MN Beer Activists) believe Sunday liquor sales could hurt small, independent liquor stores that can’t afford to be open on Sundays.

The House convenes at 3:30 p.m. Monday. You can watch a live stream of the floor session online here.

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