Now it's the Senate's turn to weigh in: Sunday liquor sales will get a full vote

The House approved a bill last week – now the Senate has a chance to do the same.
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A bill to repeal the ban on Sunday liquor sales is headed to the Senate floor.

After more than an hour of debate Wednesday morning, a Senate committee voted 7-4 in favor of a bill to allow Sunday liquor sales, which brings the repeal of the ban one step closer to reality.

It's not clear if this Senate committee version will pass the full Senate though. And state senators have said the vote will be much closer than it was in the House.

It's not clear when the Senate will vote on the bill, that's up to the majority leader – but authors of the Senate bill say "hopefully soon."

Earlier this week, the full House approved a bill that would allow liquor stores to sell booze on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The bill that's headed to the Senate floor is a little different from the House bill – it includes an amendment that would mean liquor stores could open at 11 a.m. on Sundays, not 10 a.m. like the House bill, MinnPost reporter Briana Bierschbach tweeted.

Both the Senate and the House must pass the same bill – and Gov. Mark Dayton has to sign it – for it to become law. The governor has said he'd sign a repeal of the ban if the bill makes it to his desk.

If the House and Senate pass different bills, they would have to go to a conference committee to hammer out the differences before it heads to the governor.

Arguments for and against it

Minnesota is one of only 12 states that prohibits 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.

Others argued during Wednesday's committee meeting that allowing liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sundays could increase alcohol-related incidents like drunk driving, and could be a slippery slope that leads to loosening more of Minnesota's liquor laws.

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