The Minnesota Legislature's long debate over alcohol sales on Sundays could end in 2017, House Speaker Kurt Daudt told reporters on Monday.
Speaking to the media during a legislative session preview event, Daudt, R-Crown, said he expects the perennial issue will come up again once the Legislature convenes in January -- and that he senses that it has the support of a majority of his colleagues in the House. Daudt said he's spoken with other legislators and also indicated that there will be shifts in the committee that will first consider the issue.
"I think it's past time," he said. "If a liquor store doesn't want to be open on Sunday, they don't have to."
Meanwhile, incoming Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park said she's been opposed to Sunday sales in the past because of the potential for "big-box" liquor stores to use it to edge out smaller business. But she said she now considers herself "open minded" on the issue.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, who will move into the minority leader role in January, said he said not changed his long-held position opposing Sunday sales. But incoming Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, indicated that his own longstanding opposition could be influenced by shifting opinions among his Senate colleagues.
"I've been 'no' on Sunday sales, but I want to see what the caucus thinks on that," he said. "Stay tuned."
Minnesota's ban on Sunday liquor sales dates to 1935, and the state is one of 12 in the U.S. with the prohibition. A proposal to repeal the ban was last voted down in the House in March 2016, on a vote of 70-56. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign a repeal of the Sunday sales ban, should one reach his desk.