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House lawmakers take a big step, approve a bill to allow Sunday liquor sales

Now it's time to see what the Senate does.

The Minnesota House voted to approve a bill that would allow Minnesotans to buy liquor – in Minnesota – on Sundays.

The bill passed 85-45 Monday afternoon. It allows liquor sales from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays (though stores can't get alcohol deliveries that day). It would kick in July 1 of this year.

But there's a big "if."

For a bill to become a law, both the House and Senate have to approve identical bills, then the governor has to sign it. The House approved the bill – but the Senate hasn't voted on it yet. And it's not clear if it'll even pass the Senate.

A Senate committee is supposed to talk about the companion version of a Sunday sales bill on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. The committee would have to approve the bill to go to the full Senate for a vote.

The text is a little different than the version the House passed at this point, and doesn't include the delivery stipulation.

“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 recently told the Rochester Post Bulletin.

If the bill ends up matching the House version and gets passed by the Senate, then it would go to Gov. Mark Dayton. He's said he would sign it, the Pioneer Press noted.

Last year both the House and Senate made last-ditch attempts to repeal the ban by tacking it onto another bill as an amendment. And both times it got voted down.

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.

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