Minnesota House rejects Sunday liquor sales

The Minnesota House voted 75-57 against allowing a local option for Sunday liquor sales. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

The Minnesota House has voted to keep the state’s longtime ban on Sunday liquor sales.

Lawmakers rejected an amendment to a larger liquor policy bill today by a vote of 75-57. The amendment would have allowed local municipalities to decide whether to allow liquor stores the option of opening on Sundays.

Minnesota is among 12 states that still ban Sunday sales.

Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said her proposal was about local control.

“They are fully capable of making this decision,” Loon said. “If this is something that your community wants, your local government should have the ability to make that choice.”

Other supporters of Sunday sales argued that the state is losing business because of the ban.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said economic activity is being suppressed.

“We are exporting our commerce,” Drazkowski said. “Our businesses are giving up opportunity and we are exporting commerce to Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Ontario. We are an island.”

But opponents of the amendment also raised economic concerns.

Rep. John Considine, DFL-Mankato, said the local liquor store owners he’s talked to don’t want to be open on Sundays.

“To me this looks like an all-out assault on mom and pop liquor stores,” Considine said.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said the debate over Sunday sales should also include the impact of alcohol abuse.

“There is a cost to alcohol that isn’t just defined by dollars,” Hansen said.

An amendment repealing the ban on Sunday sales failed in the Minnesota Senate earlier this month.

The larger House omnibus liquor bill, which passed on a 127-4 vote, does allow craft brewers to sell beer growlers on Sunday.

There’s also a provision that allows bars and restaurants to begin serving drinks at 8 a.m. on Sundays.