A proposal to eliminate Minnesota’s ban on Sunday liquor sales is on life support at the Capitol.
The chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Hoppe, tells Hot Dish he won’t hold a hearing on the bill this year, effectively stopping it in its tracks. The perennial proposal passed a Senate committee this March for the first time in recent history.
The proposal could still arise as an amendment to the omnibus liquor bills, which are winding through committee.
Sunday sales face stiff opposition from the state’s powerful liquor lobby, which has quashed many similar efforts over the years. Liquor stores oppose the bill because they do not want to open on Sunday.
The bill does not mandate opening on Sundays, but owners say they would be forced to for competitive reasons.
Sponsor Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said he will not request another hearing in the Senate until the bill moves forward in the House.
"I’m willing to push the rock up the hill, but I’m not going to twist arms and go for it in the Senate if the House isn’t even going to hear the bill in committee,” Reinert said. “That’s asking a lot of people to step outside their comfort zones with little or no reward.”
Hoppe, R-Chaska, said he did not want to have a hearing partly because it would consume too much committee time. He noted he might feel differently if the liquor stores could reach an agreement with bill supporters.
“We are already doing enough liquor bills this year that have been sort of controversial,” Hoppe said. “And we like peace in the valley, as they say.”