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Backers of Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota admit defeat

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 9, 2014 - 3:49 PM

Backers of Sunday liquor sales admitted on Friday that the doors are closed to their efforts this year.

In the face of oppositions, the House and Senate this year will not rescind the long-standing ban on Sunday hours for liquor stores, said DFL Sen. Roger Reinert and GOP Rep. Jenifer Loon. Minnesota will not allow local governments to decide whether to let stores stay open on Sunday, they said.

Minnesota will not change its law to let brewers sell growlers on Sundays, which Reinert said would only be a "baby step" toward full Sunday sales, is clearly dead for the year, they said.

Despite the boiling emotion over the Sunday sales issue -- supporters of a repeal blasted their voices over social media this year -- none of that changed the reality: The Minnesota Legislature is not ready to allow even a growler-sized hole in the Sunday ban.

On Friday, Reinert, of Duluth, repeatedly decried the Legislature's inconsistency. It, last year, legalized same-sex marriage. It, this year, is on track to legalize limited use of medical marijuana.

"Yet Sunday sales is a bridge too far?" he said.

Lawmakers oppose changing the Sunday sales rules for a variety of reasons.

Some say it would hurt municipal tax rolls, because some cities run their own liquor stores. Others say Minnesotans can simply plan to buy their bottles of booze any of the other six days in the week. Still others say that even allowing growlers, 64-ounce glass containers, could force the powerful Teamsters' union to re-open some contracts.

Loon, of Eden Prairie, dismissed opponents who killed this year's efforts as a "small but powerful group."

"If I'm asked who is responsible for this not making progress: It's the Teamsters," Reinert said.

Reinert said he thinks it may be time to go around legislative opposition.

"Do we have to really seriously considering this on the ballot?" he said. "Maybe it is time to make it a ballot question."

That tactic would still involve lawmakers approving a constitutional question over Sunday booze next year to place it before voters in 2016.

Photo: Map from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States


 

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