A new bill proposed by a Dakota County lawmaker offers a compromise of sorts on the sale of liquor on Sundays.
Cashier Janet Mesmer checked out a customer at the Lakeville municipal liquor store on Galaxie Avenue. There are several bills in the Legislature related to Sunday liquor sales, including one authored by Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington that asks that Sunday liquor sales be allowed only on Super Bowl Sunday 2014.
In the midst of what’s become a perennial fight at the State Capitol over legalizing Sunday liquor sales, Dakota County — like Minnesota itself — is far from consensus.
South-metro cities that run municipal liquor stores have the same opinion as private stores on Sunday sales: No thanks.
For many of their customers, it’s an issue of convenience, with polls showing widespread support for the change.
And adding a new dimension is a new proposal by Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington, that would allow liquor sales only on Super Bowl Sunday of 2014.
The Dakota County lawmaker’s bill joins a broader bill, similar to the one that failed by large margins in both 2011 and 2012, that would legalize liquor sales on Sundays, along with several holidays.
Garofalo, who has voted against Sunday sales in the past, said his bill has “the best chance of passing” out of all the Sunday liquor sales bills.
“There’s always been controversy surrounding this issue. I thought this would be a reasonable, sensible way to introduce the issue, to do a pilot project for one day and report back to the Legislature,” he said.
His bill offers a compromise on what has long been seen as a losing proposition by the liquor store industry, led by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.
“I think what you’d see is your Saturday sales decrease and those sales would be spread out over Sundays,” said Jason Fannin, manager of The Cellars Wine and Spirits in Eagan. “You’d see higher overhead and maybe a 1 percent sales increase.”
Cities with municipal liquor, such as Lakeville and Savage, feel the same, and have told the state as much in their annual legislative priorities. Other municipal liquor cities, like Apple Valley, oppose the concept but don’t specifically mention it in their priorities. The Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association shares the cities’ position.
“We just don’t think it makes business sense,” said Steve Mielke, Lakeville’s city administrator.
He noted that Colorado noticed small profit increases after allowing Sunday sales, but not enough to cover the additional day of operation.
“People have enough opportunities to buy it already,” said Barry Stock, Savage’s city administrator.
Stock also suggested that another day of alcohol availability could lead to more drunken driving and noted that there are years of culture behind the blue law, instituted after Prohibition ended.
In 15 years, only two residents have mentioned to him that they wanted Sunday sales allowed, Stock added.
But Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, who stopped by a liquor store recently, says he sees no reason stores shouldn’t be open on Sundays.
“My attitude toward it is that businesses and customers should be able to make choices in the marketplace,” Maguire said.