Sunday liquor letdown in House?

20120305_bemidji-brewing-company-beers

The chair of the Minnesota House Commerce Committee says he isn’t sure he’ll hold a hearing on a bill that would allow the state’s liquor stores to open on Sundays.

“I don’t know yet,” said Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska.

Hoppe said he’s going to meet with Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, to discuss how they should proceed with her bill, including possibly holding an informational hearing that doesn’t include a vote.

It  appears there aren’t enough votes to move the bill out of the Commerce Committee. Loon acknowledged as much when asked about prospects for the measure.

“I think we may stand a better chance at the House at large but I don’t know that for certain,” Loon said. “People are kind of keeping their cards pretty close right now.”

Hoppe said he won’t include Sunday sales in a broader liquor bill that he’s crafting, but he said he expects supporters of Sunday sales to propose it as an amendment when his liquor bill is debated on the House floor.

“If we do have the vote on the floor this year, I’m sure we’ll have more votes than we’ve ever had before,” Hoppe said. “Are we going to have 68 to pass it? I think it depends on the details of the bill. I don’t think it’s there, but it’s going to be a lot closer than it used to be.”

Hoppe has voted against allowing Sunday sales in the past but said he’s trying to remain neutral on the issue this year.

The House has repeatedly defeated efforts to expand liquor sales to Sunday. Independent liquor store owners oppose the measure because they don’t want to open their stores on Sundays.

The Teamsters Union also opposes it because they worry it could reopen their labor contracts with liquor distributors.

Supporters of Sunday sales were hopeful that they could pass the measure this year after Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he supported it. Gov. Dayton said he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, however, said he does not support the initiative.