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Schafer: An obvious example of what shouldn't be a law

  • Blog Post by: Lee Schafer
  • March 7, 2014 - 12:40 PM

Senate File 1859 is only six lines long but it’s one of the more interesting business-related pieces of legislation tossed in the hopper this legislative session.

It is to amend Minnesota statutes to say that “a license for the off-sale of intoxicating liquor may only be issued to a person who is a Minnesota resident.”

The bill’s author is DFL state Sen. James Metzen of a northern Dakota County district.

The public policy goals here are not particularly clear. Have there been residents of Wisconsin who’ve been particularly irresponsible as license holders of a liquor retailer?

In searching the Star Tribune’s archives, no such cases have arisen that would suggest any threat to the public posed by out-of-staters.

What it’s about, of course, is the market entry into the Twin Cities of Total Wine & More, a wine and liquor superstore retailer based in Potomac, Maryland.  The company has had a store in Bloomington ready to open since before Christmas but can’t seem to get a license. It’s got another in Roseville that will open next week.

And the company is principally owned by David and Robert Trone, two brothers who appear to live in Maryland.

In the past week the company has put on the public relations push to get the word out that they operate good stores and treat the public responsibly.

In a brief conversation with David Trone this week, he said entering a new market sometimes does generate a little heat with retailers already there, but what he has seen in the Twin Cities so far is an “outlier,” although he seems to not be particularly aggravated.

He said he certainly hasn’t seen legislation banning him from a state before, and added, “The fact that somebody would go to that length is astounding.”

Based on the state’s website, it doesn’t look like the bill will get a hearing this year.

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