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Bill: Leave Sunday liquor sales up to municipalities

Posted by: Abby Simons under Minnesota legislature Updated: January 13, 2014 - 11:17 AM

A Minnesota state lawmaker has proposed repealing a state law banning Sunday liquor sales and allowing local municipalities to decide their own hours and rules for such sales.

Deputy House Minority Leader Jennifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, authored a bill for the upcoming 2014 legislative session. She said Monday that her proposal leaving the decision up to cities and towns will restore freedom and local control while making Minnesota more competitive. The issue, she added, has bipartisan support.

Minnesota is one of only a dozen states nationwide with a so-called blue law, the source of perennial debate at the Capitol. Last session, the House rejected a Sunday sales bill by a resounding vote of 106-21. The Senate version of the bill never even made it to a floor vote. Democrats in the House and Senate proposed similar bills last session. Democratic Sen. Roger Reinert, whose Duluth district sits across the bridge from Wisconsin’s seven-day-a-week liquor stores, plans to offer a Sunday sales bill again next session.

“The time has come for state government to abolish this outdated law and move the decision closer to the people.” Loon said in a statement. “While local governments should have the final say in how these sales are controlled, our citizens and businesses deserve a less restrictive regulatory climate that invites competition, creates jobs and brings fundamental freedom back to our communities."

Loon said she understands the concerns raised by Sunday sales opponents in the past, such as liquor store owners who say a change in the law would boost labor costs, but not profits. However, she said, none of Minnesota’s neighboring states ban Sunday liquor sales.

Gov. Mark Dayton said last month that he would not oppose legalizing Sunday liquor sales, and that he would sign such a bill into law if it made it to his desk.

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