A Senate committee will hear a bill next week allowing Sunday sales of liquor in Minnesota, a sign the perennial effort may have more traction than past years.

Bill sponsor Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said he does not know of another time in recent history the bill has been heard in the Senate -- it may have been in the House.

He believes he has enough votes to move it out of committee.

"I'm getting some Republican support from new members who came in as free market people," Reinert said. "And this is kind of the classic free market issue." 

Past attempts to repeal the law, which dates back to at least 1858, have been stymied by liquor store owners who say they would have to stay open another day without generating sufficient extra revenue.

The bill does not require stores to open on Sunday, but owners say they would have to for competitive reasons.

Those stores are represented at the Capitol by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, a powerful liquor lobby that fiercely opposes the bill.

Expect liquor store owners to testify against the bill at Wednesday's hearing.

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