It looks like liquor stores in MN will still be closed on Sundays for awhile


It looked like lawmakers probably wouldn't tackle Sunday liquor sales this session, since they had less time than usual and some other big issues that had to get sorted out.

But on Thursday, state representatives got the chance to vote on opening the door to Sunday sales ... and defeated it, leaving many supporters disappointed (again).

So what happened Thursday?

The Sunday liquor sales proposal wasn't its own bill.

It was actually an amendment, proposed by Republican Rep. Jenifer Loon, that would have let cities decide whether to allow liquor sales on Sundays (though not before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m.) within their borders.

It would have been added to another larger bill that lets St. Cloud State University, Indiafest, the new St. Paul soccer stadium, and a few other places get a liquor license.

Loon said it's time for Minnesota to "step forward" and let local governments make their own decision.

But the author of the bigger bill (Republican Rep. Joe Hoppe) actually argued against Loon's amendment, saying because it was controversial, it could sink the entire big bill if it was attached, Session Daily reports.

Loon's amendment was voted down 70-56. And the larger bill was then passed 126-0 without it, and will head to the Senate for a vote. (A bill has to be passed by both the House and Senate, then signed by the governor, to become law.)

Why is there a Sunday sales ban in Minnesota?

Groups have been pushing to end the Sunday liquor sales ban in the state for years, and it's been unsuccessful so far (though there has been progress with growlers being sold on Sundays).

The Sunday sales ban dates back to essentially the beginning of Minnesota history, Session Daily says, and is a "blue law" – a regulation that came about for religious reasons. We're one of 12 states that don't allow Sunday liquor sales, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States says.

People who want to see the ban lifted (including groups like Minnesota Beer Activists and Sunday Sales MN) argue the law is outdated, it restricts businesses who do want to sell that day, and it causes the state to lose tax money to neighboring Wisconsin (with thirsty Minnesotans making a quick trip over the border and back when they want a Sunday refill).

Opponents have countered that it puts undue pressure on small liquor stores, who often want a day off but could feel pressured into having to be open to compete with big stores and chains.

This vote though was closer than last year, when the House proposal was rejected 75-57.

Minnesota Beer Activists has a detailed breakdown of which lawmakers switched votes compared to last year's results, and a look at how the three new representatives voted.

Sunday sales supporters aren't thrilled

Here are a few tweets from lawmakers who supported lifting the ban:

People who want to see the ban lifted quickly took to social media to voice their displeasure:

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