Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Friday that a measure to reverse the state's ban on Sunday sales is guaranteed to get a House floor vote and has a more significant chance of passing than in previous years.
Daudt, R-Crown, told Minnesota Public Radio that a full repeal of the 80-year-old prohibition is certain to come up as an amendment to the omnibus liquor bill, which would allow sales of growlers from taprooms on Sundays, but contains no full repeal of the ban on Sunday alcohol sales. The House Commerce Committee held an informational hearing on a Sunday sales repeal earlier this week, but did not vote.
"When that bill comes to the floor, I guarantee there will be an amendment on the floor to add in Sunday liquor sales," Daudt said. "That vote has happened almost like clockwork the last few years."
Daudt has changed his position and now supports Sunday liquor sales — a move that was considered a game-changer among the Legislature's bipartisan advocates for the repeal, led by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, and Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth.
"It has a 50-50 shot of getting added" as an amendment, Daudt told the station. "If it does get added, I believe it will become law." The measure would need 68 votes to pass the House. In 2013, the last time an amendment made it to the floor, it was soundly defeated, 106-21. A Senate amendment last year was defeated 22-42.
If Sunday sales clears the House, it once again faces a high hurdle in the Senate, where Majority Leader Tom Bakk has maintained his opposition to a repeal, saying that Sunday sales are not a priority. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign a repeal if it came to his desk.
Despite growing public support, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has long pushed back against a repeal, saying liquor store owners would be forced to stay open to keep up with the competition, increasing overhead costs but not profits, but groups like the Minnesota Beer Activists and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) have ramped up their own lobbying efforts.
Daudt said his position used to hinge on input from liquor store owners, until he began hearing more frequently from the public in favor of Sunday sales. Still, he won't pressure his caucus to vote one way or another.
"We really let them make their decisions and I think they're hearing the same things that I am," he said. "People are starting to really want this and I think it's something we can certainly do."