The Senate passed a Sunday liquor sales bill - Bring Me The News

The Senate passed a Sunday liquor sales bill

This is the closest Minnesota has come to having Sunday liquor sales. But there's still work that needs to be done before it's official

It's looking more likely that you'll be able to buy booze at a liquor store on Sundays here for the first time in state history.

After more than an hour of discussion, the Senate voted 38-28 Monday to pass a bill that would allow liquor stores to sell product on Sundays in Minnesota. The House's version of the repeal passed easily last week.

But the 159-year ban on Sunday sales hasn't been lifted, yet. To become law, the House and Senate must pass identical bills before it goes to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk for his signature (he's said he would sign it).

The problem is, the bills the House and Senate passed are slightly different – the Senate version of the bill makes it legal for liquor stores to sell booze on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the House version sets hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

So what's next?

The fate of Sunday sales will come down to that hour discrepancy, and whether the House and Senate can agree on what time liquor stores should be allowed to open on Sundays.

The bill will go to a conference committee if the House doesn't adopt the bill the Senate passed. In the conference committee, lawmakers from both chambers will work on a compromise. That compromise bill will then go back to both chambers for votes.

If both the House and Senate repass the bill, it goes to Dayton for his signature.

If one or both chambers reject this compromise bill, it goes back to the conference committee for more discussion.

And if/when Dayton signs the bill, it will be legal in Minnesota to buy booze from a liquor store starting July 1.

City ordinances – like one that's in place in Rochester – could still prevent liquor stores from being open on Sundays, or could further limit the hours they can sell booze.

Arguments for and against it

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

For years, consumers and advocacy groups have pushed to change Minnesota’s liquor laws. They've made some advances in recent years, like allowing breweries and brewpubs to sell growlers on Sundays – but nothing close to a full repeal of the Sunday sales ban.

Supporters say the state's antiquated regulations put the state at a disadvantage to its neighbors, and repealing the ban would boost the economy and give private businesses the freedom to operate when they want to.

Some lawmakers (see this list from Minnesota Beer Activists) believe Sunday liquor sales could hurt small, independent liquor stores that can’t afford to be open on Sundays. The bill doesn't require a liquor store be open Sundays, but liquor store owners say it would force them to be open because of competition.

Opponents have also said opening at 10 a.m. would mean liquor store workers would have to use vacation time just to go to church, since many services go past that mark. They've also argued that Sunday sales 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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