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House approves liquor bill, but no Sunday sales expansion

Posted by: Patrick Condon under Minnesota legislature Updated: May 8, 2014 - 1:28 PM

The Minnesota House has approved a handful of changes to state liquor laws, but it does not include any expansion of Sunday liquor sales.

The House's "liquor omnibus bill" originally included a provision that would have allowed craft breweries to sell 64-ounce growlers of beer on Sunday, which is currently illegal. But a similar provision was stripped from a Senate liquor bill earlier this week, and the House sponsor said including it in his bill would have hung up the proposal in the face of Senate opposition. 

Other provisions in the bill "have broad bipartisan support and shouldn't be hung up over the contentious Sunday growler issue," said Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights. Minnesota's Teamsters union had urged senators to remove the growler provision from their liquor bill, saying it would have required the organization to re-open contracts with some of its beer delivery drivers. 

Minnesota law prohibiting liquor sales on Sunday have long been unpopular with a vocal segment of voters, but lawmakers who try to undo the prohibition have repeatedly run into opposition from a range of political interests. In addition to Teamsters, many mom-and-pop liquor store owners want to be able to close their shops one day a week without facing competition from larger retailers. 

The House liquor bill would allow micro-brewer taprooms to obtain Sunday on-sale liquor licenses from cities that offer them, which would put them at the same level as restaurants. But it would not allow Sunday growler sales. 

The House proposal would allow Hennepin County jurisdictions to permit a 4 a.m. bar and restaurant closing time on the Monday and Tuesday nights in July that coincide with the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It would also allow the continued sale of beer at events at TCF Bank Stadium. Another change would be allowing a new crop of micro-distilleries popping up around Minnesota to open "cocktail" rooms similar to the taprooms proliferating at craft breweries. 

The House passed its liquor omnibus bill by a vote of 120-10. 

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