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Legislature: Lawmakers pore over Sunday liquor sale bills; tax bill advances


State lawmakers are set Thursday to unveil several proposals that could set up spirited debate over whether Minnesota should allow Sunday liquor store sales.

Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, are introducing several bills that would give lawmakers options, from full repeal of the Sunday sales ban to more incremental steps, the Associated Press reports. Another option: allow sales of beer growlers on Sunday at local tap rooms only.

The two lawmakers say there is growing public support for lifting the Sunday sales ban, and their proposals are designed to start the debate for lawmakers.

A poll released by Public Policy Polling in May found 62 percent of Minnesotans supported Sunday alcohol sales and only 31 percent were opposed.

Legislators for years have mulled similar bills, but the proposal to lift the Sunday sales ban has been a tough one to swallow, and the measures always die without approval.

Among the critics of the proposal are many liquor store owners, who say it would merely spread six days worth of sales over seven days, and wouldn't boost profits. They like having one day off, without having to worry about losing sales to competitors.

Minnesota is one of only 12 states that bans liquor stores from selling products on Sundays.

In other action at the Capitol during a busy second week of the session:

– Tax bill. The full House could vote as soon as Thursday on a $500 million bill that would cut taxes for middle-income Minnesotans and businesses, the Associated Press notes. The tax package is on a fast track because it could benefit some people filing taxes by the April 15 deadline, and because the package contains one repeal of a business tax on warehousing services set to take effect April 1.

The bill also would scrap two other new business taxes, on telecommunications equipment and on commercial equipment repairs, including farm equipment. The Pioneer Press has more about what the bill would do for families. The bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, MPR News notes.

– Minimum wage. After what was described as a breakthrough early this week in the debate over raising Minnesota's minimum wage from $6.15/hour to $9.50 by 2016, a stalemate has developed, the Star Tribune reports. DFL leaders this week have been talking through how best to implement a hike in the standard. But there's disagreement between House and Senate leaders on whether to tie future hikes in the minimum wage to inflation.

– E-cigarettes. Lawmakers are mulling legislation aimed at keeping minors from getting hooked on e-cigarettes, FOX 9 reports. One House bill would ban e-cigarettes from schools and ban sales to minors, FOX notes. A Senate version would ban e-cigarettes from public buildings just like tobacco cigarettes.

– Veterans Day. A bill that would give military veterans a legal right to Veterans Day off from work advanced Wednesday, the AP reported. Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, says his bill would require employers to approve time off for documented veterans as long as the worker had requested the day off a month in advance.

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