Sunday liquor sales dies again at Capitol

There are few issues that find DFLers and Republicans on the same side at the Capitol these days. Sunday liquor sales is one.

Minnesota doesn’t allow liquor sales on Sunday and the issue annually surfaces at the Capitol and efforts to repeal the liquor blue laws annually fail.

Today the issue surfaced at the Capitol and the repeal effort went down in flames again.

“We are seeing our commerce exported to states like Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Iowa. The freedom to stay in business rather than being restricted by state law,” Rep. Stephen Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa said as he tried to amend a bill to allow Sunday sales, sales on Thanksgiving and after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

“All of the consumers I’ve spoken with want Sunday liquor sales. We’re all adults; we should have the right to choose,” Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, said. “It’s 2012. It’s about time our laws reflect that.”

“It wasn’t the big liquor stores that came in (to testify on previous measures); it was the small ones — the mom and pops came in and said, ‘you’re going to take six days of revenue and spread it over seven days,'” Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, answered

“What industry wouldn’t like a deal where the government comes in and says, ‘you can have a day when you don’t have to worry about your competitors’?” Rep. Tina Liebling said. “This is a legal product and to not allow it is unfair to the consumer. It treats people like children. That’s a silly argument and kind of insulting. They don’t have to open and that’s the free market, you’re always talking about. Restaurants do this too. They close on Mondays.”

“Think of the families,” Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont said. “If someone wants to drink, they can go Saturdays to buy their liquor and drink it at home with their family. My dad drank too much. My brother probably was an alcoholic. I don’t think they ever spent a Sunday drinking; they spent it with their family. Let the families have a day together, ”

“If you have something against liquor, bring forward a bill to outlaw it,” Drazkowski said.

“Stay home with your family. Value church and family times,” Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said. “I think the blue laws are a part of Americana that everyone wants to get back to.”

“Why would you come to this state if you can’t get a beer?” another lawmaker said.

The amendment went down and went down hard on a 97-25 vote.

“This thing got destroyed,” Rep. Kriesel said. “Government knows what’s best for you. This is incredibly frustrating.” He offered an amendment to offer liquor sales in border counties.

“Did you guys watch the Vikings last year? Three and 13. I think liquor is something that could solve the frustration on Sundays this year,” he joked.

His amendment went down hard, too. 99-21.

  • cory

    What a joke. If this can be justified by anybody that person would also have to justify shutting down every other business that is open on Sunday. What is difference between selling liquor and selling gas or groceries, bait, clothing, etc? Please tell me so I can understand.

  • These laws not only drive business to neighboring states, they also increase gas consumption and therefore pollution. So it’s not only bad for the MN businesses’ bottom line, it’s also bad for the environment. Plus, Minnesota is out that tax revenue when liquor sales cross the border. Additionally, opting to drink in bars on Sundays increases the likelihood for drunk driving accidents.

    But, perhaps most importantly, I really don’t need legislators telling me how to spend my weekends.

  • Tyler

    Mom and Pop shops don’t want to be open on Sundays? If this law had passed, they still wouldn’t have to. It’s their choice. Half the Mom and Pop liquor stores near where I live close by 5 anyway, yet the MGMs of Minnesota stay open until 10.


    “Think of the families,” Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont said. “If someone wants to drink, they can go Saturdays to buy their liquor and drink it at home with their family. My dad drank too much. My brother probably was an alcoholic. I don’t think they ever spent a Sunday drinking; they spent it with their family. Let the families have a day together, ”

    That’s the biggest load of blarney I’ve ever heard. Alcoholics take Sundays off? No. Republican Representative Bob, you’re full of it.

  • Jim!!!

    Bob, can you post the voting record on that? I want to know who to not vote for this fall.

  • BenCh

    If I need to buy alcohol on Sundays I go to Wisconsin. If they say it is 6 days of revenue spread out then open an hour or 2 later on weekdays. I don’t need to buy my alcohol at 8am.

    And really? Sunday is church day? I remember seeing a recent study out that showed that less than 50% of Minnesotans are religious . How many people go to church on Sunday (maybe 16 weeks out of the year?) and how many drink on a Sunday? I think an easier solution would be to allow it, but let counties decide if they want to ban sales on Sunday (so border counties can allow it to compete with out-of-state stores).

  • David

    “I think the blue laws are a part of Americana that everyone wants to get back to.”


    Joe McDonald had a farm e i e i o

    and on this farm he had some BS e i e i o

    with a ban ban here and ban ban there

    here a ban there a ban

    everywhere a rights ban

  • Josh

    I really don’t see the big deal. I have lived in MN a majority of my life since turning 21 and I have never driven to WI solely for the purpose of buying alcohol. If I know I am going to want a beer on Sunday, I make sure to buy it on Saturday.

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob, can you post the voting record on that?

    We orphaned :”Votetracker” so I don’t have a means of presenting the data. When it’s published in the House Journal, I’ll post a link and page number.

  • Jeff

    I, too, am baffled by people’s opposition to this. Aren’t most of the people opposed to it Republicans? Are most Republican’s opposed to the government telling them what they can and can’t do? Aren’t most Republicans in favor of letting the invisible hand of the free market do what it wants to do? So why are they opposed to this? If a small store believes that being open on Sunday will take 6 days of income and spread it over 7, why don’t they open on Sunday, close on Monday and Tuesday, and then spread 6 days of income over 5? And who honestly believes that there is a single person who has ever said, “Shoot, since the liquor store is closed, I guess I’ll go to church instead and spend time with my family.” Who thinks this way?

    What is the REAL reason the people opposed to the change are opposed to it?

    a record of House votes is here:

  • andy

    When I was living in MN, I always hated that silly antiquated law. Down here in the Land of Lincoln, I can buy alcohol on Sundays (after 11:00 am) and in grocery stores! It’s wonderful.

  • Cory

    To Josh. You are a sheep. Just like the legislators want you to be………. They will soon be telling you that you cannot have a mountain dew or a snickers cause it might make you overweight. Bahhhh

  • Josh

    I already don’t eat Snickers or Mtn. Dew, because I know it isn’t healthy for me.

    The no beer on Sundays really doesn’t bother me. I would much rather be able to buy beer and wine at grocery stores, than buy beer on Sundays.

    Where is the outrage about not being able to buy a car on Sundays?

  • Joey

    Bob, can we see some analysis of what’s really causing legislators to vote against this thing? It seems clear their constituents want Sunday liquor sales, and it seems strange that a legislature dominated by the GOP would be in favor of regulating business so strictly. So what’s really going on? I have a guess that bars are lobbying hard against these bills, and that not very many people are calling their legislators urging them to vote for Sunday liquor sales. Maybe MPR could do some research on this and turn it into a piece?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Out here in wicked California, John Barleycorn, Jose Tequila and Boris Smirnoff are available 24/7. And a movie theater in my neighborhood just opened that has bar service.

    I once heard from a sociologist that at one time, Minnesota had the highest church to bar ratio in the nation.

    And don’t forget where the guy who came up the the Volstead Act was from.

  • Bob Collins

    A colleague who worked for MinnPost last year looked into it. His article is here. Bottom line: it’s an effective lobby.

  • Cory

    Baaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.. It is almost time to be sheared Minnesotans.

  • Bonnie

    Bob Gunther is ridiculous.

    I say why not try it for a year and see what happens! If the liquor stores lose money we go back to the old rules.

  • Steve O.

    Since this action continues to drive commerce to the border states like Wisconsin, you’ve got to wonder how much the legislators who voted it down got in “donations” from Wisconsin Liquor Store concerns.

  • Matt

    Steve O. and others, It’s not the WI liquor store owners lobbying for this, though they do make a (small) profit from it. The people keeping us from having Sunday liquor sales are the MN store owners. They want a guaranteed day off by law, something that almost no other industry enjoys. Well too bad for them, consumer choice says that we demand Sunday liquor sales. The store owners will still have the choice of remaining closed if they wish. If they have to hire a few part-timers to work on Sundays, then that sounds like job creation to me. When’s the last time you heard of a liquor store going out of business? I can’t say I’ve ever seen it happen. The stuff sells itself.

  • Suzanne

    I don’t see what the big deal is with the shops closing on Sunday. If they had the option of staying open, most of the “mom & pops” would likely feel compelled to work a seven-day week. Give them a break.

  • Katie

    Wow! I’m truly surprised at all of the people who can’t plan ahead! If this is a major issue for you and you are not in the business, maybe you have drinking problem :-\ Mostly consumers are the ones who are driving this. What does this say about Minnesotans?

    Especially because there are more important issues than this. For example, quality education, jobs, access to quality health care, the environment…

  • brian

    Katie: I go to a liquor store at most once a month, but when I lived in Minnesota the day I thought about it seemed to invariably fall on a Sunday. It wasn’t a hardship to wait a day or think ahead (I never drove out of state). It just seems like a pointless inconvenience.

    I now live in Iowa and can buy it in the grocery store (but not my preferred grocery store since it is closed on Sundays voluntarily).

  • Bob Collins

    // Especially because there are more important issues than this. For example, quality education, jobs, access to quality health care, the environment…

    In fairness to the legislature, considering the issue didn’t detract from any of those issues since the issue was an amendment attached to the omnibus liquor bill and it only took about a half hour of time.

    Gotta say, though the idea that all of us need to not be able to buy a legal product on a Sunday because it’s the one day someone’s alcoholic family sobers up is pretty darned weird, though.

    And a similar notion that the reason behind the current situation is to encourage us to go to church…. well…. never mind.

  • Vincent

    The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) is the cancer that is hindering the growth of the beer scene in Minnesota and they need to be stopped!

    They’re the reason why our laws are outdated, why liquor sales on sundays are prohibited, why brewpubs have such a hard time distributing their beer, and why millions of dollars goes to Wisconsin each year. The only thing the MLBA is concerned about is their bottom line, nothing else.

    They are a cancerous tumor on the MN Beer scene and like all tumors, they need to be removed!

    Contact your representatives or better yet contact the MLBA and tell them what you think of them. Or even better still, boycott the stores they represent!

  • Lynn Spainhower

    Rep. Gunther is either an idiot, or in total denial of how alcoholics behave. His father and brother both decided not to drink on Sunday’s because liquor stores were closed? Seriously Rep. Gunther??? Where were you when I was selling that swamp land down in Florida? Come on! This law is ridiculous! Personal story…last Super Bowl party was at my house. Because I am not a beer drinker (I like wine) I forgot to get the cases of beer I needed for my guest Saturday. I had to drive down to Iowa Sunday morning (after church!) to get the beer. I nearly hit a deer on the way home and barely escaped landing in a ditch or worse. All this because I couldn’t drive 1/2 mile to my nearest liquor store on a Sunday. Really???? I was raised in CA. This to me is beyond stupid. Sell beer on Sunday. If bars don’t like it, tell them to build a bridge and get over it.

  • allie

    Coming from a family where alcoholism has been a real problem, and killed two uncles (truly; I’m not being melodramatic), I can say: Alcoholism waits for no liquor ban. Just open the doors on Sundays, and if our legislators really want to prevent alcohol abuse, they could advocate for programs or increased funding to address the disease.

  • Bonnie

    The real cancer is campaign financing and lobbyists.

  • Duke

    Grocery retailers want liqour in their stores. Sunday sales will open the door for this. I can see grocery liqour sales hurting many liqour stores and I think this is the root of much of the opposition.

  • Cory

    For all commenters that are saying let them have a day off and are comfortable with the government saying who can/cannot be open here is a question for you…….Why should government get involved with when a business can have a day off? Also please explain to me why State government has allowed other retail businesses to be open on Sundays as I do not see any difference.

  • KRae61

    I’m personally surprised MADD doesn’t get on board and lobby to have liquor stores open on Sundays, because all having them closed does is either a) send people out of state to buy their liquor (other than their 3.2 at the c-store); or b) send them to the bars where they can do their drinking and then get behind the wheel and drive home! Wouldn’t you rather have people stay home and tip their beers, etc., during the Vikings games?

    I have lots of summer bbqs on Sundays, and in the fall/winter it’s football parties, and it would be nice to not have to buy the beer in advance and have to make that room in my fridge for both the beer AND the food.

    And where’s the logic in not allowing liquor sales from liquor stores for at home consumption on Sundays but allowing the bars to be open and serving liquor? Bob – I know there are bars in Fairmont – are you trying to tell us that your family members couldn’t have just gone there instead? At least if they could have bought liquor at the store on Sunday they could have stayed home with the family on Sunday and do their drinking.

    I’m very embarrassed to say I’m from Fairmont originally. Bob – seriously? Your argument makes no sense – it’s not logical. And you live in a border town where people can easily cross the border into Iowa and buy their Sunday liquor. Why wouldn’t you prefer to keep those sales in town – especially since the Muni is the ONLY liquor store allowed to operate in town. There goes your city revenue – right across the border!

    I, too, have moved out of state where liquor sales are allowed 24/7, 365. Liquor was sold at the grocery stores, at stores like Target, KMart, Walmart. It was convenient and you could get all your errands run in one stop rather than having to run all over the place. I loved that it saved me time and hassle. And you never had to worry about running short of beer at your football party or bbq – if you did run short, you could just get more. And close to home! Let’s get with the times people – prohibition ended a very LONG time ago!!

  • Krae61

    One last note to all of those who voted this bill down. If you read above you will see that the people you supposedly represent WANT liquor sales on Sunday. If you were doing your job, which is to REPRESENT your constituents, then you would be voting FOR this bill rather than against it. Your constituents are SCREAMING for you to vote for it, and yet it is still falling on deaf ears. Who are you really representing there? The select few, the minority, some lobbyists who are padding your wallets? This should be about what the people want, not what some special interest group will pay you – that’s not why you’re there. And if that IS why you are there, then that’s what’s wrong with politics and politicians in the US today. You are supposed to be there to represent your constituents and be the voice of the people. You are all just a bunch of greedy idiots – evil – only looking out for yourselves. You should be ashamed to walk one foot into the State Capitol building knowing that what you are going to do there in no way represents your constituents – only your own greed, etc.

  • Cory

    Krae61…..Well said. I say let us all vote out all incumbents and keep doing it until they get the message that people are tired of legislative voting that not only grows govt and has them taking away freedoms but also will help slow down and maybe eliminate the crony voting and political lobbying/buying of votes that takes place. As I said earlier we are sheep if we keep anybody in office more than one or two terms. Vote out the incumbents nationwide.

  • chris

    Bob, This may be too late for you to read it, but I don’t think I’ve seen a NC thread with so many comments, Makes you think that we should be spending our time discussing what people care about (booze) and not silly things like racinos and stadiums.

  • Bob Collins

    Ha! Allow me to blow your theory of a correlation between comments and importance completely out of the water, much to my dismay, mind you.