The liquor lobby is hoping the Minnesota Legislaure can slip one more item on its agenda for the upcoming special session: Sunday liquor sales.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, or DISCUS, is making a longshot bid to repeal a longstanding law that bars Minnesota liquor stores from opening on Sunday. That's a tough sell during a regular legislative session.
Dayton has made it clear he won't recall lawmakers to St. Paul without an agreement that limits the scope of the proposed Sept. 9 special session. The governor wants lawmakers to tackle just two issues: disaster aid to communities slammed by summer storms and the repeal of a new tax on farm equipment repairs that he says was included in the $2.1 billion tax package in error.
If lawmakers push for additional agenda items, Dayton warned Wednesday, he would drop the tax repeal and limit the entire session to disaster aid, only.
"Hopefully (legislative leaders) will have time to sit down and work this out, and then go back to saying, ‘OK, we’re going to focus on a special session providing disaster relief,’” Dayton told reporters Wednesday. “If the agriculture (tax repeal) is unacceptable to them, if they insist on including everything else, then that won’t be able to be part of the agreement.”
Despite the narrow scope of the special session, DISCUS spokesman Ben Jenkins said his group will be working with local retailers who support Sunday sales.
"As lawmakers convene to talk policy options to raise revenue during Special Session, the time has come to pass Sunday sales," he said. "The majority of state residents want it. And the vast majority of states across America already have it – including neighbors Iowa, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and even Canada."
Sunday sales repeals come up almost every legislative session, but rarely make headway. Many small liquor store owners oppose Sunday sales, fearing that the move would put them at a disadvantage with big retail outlets and simply spread six days of sales across seven days.
Here are DISCUS's counter-arguments: