Sunday liquor sales fall flat again at Minnesota Legislature

- Like Charlie Brown trying to kick the ball away from Lucy, efforts to pass Sunday liquor sales were met with the same predictable results in the Minnesota House of Representatives. It failed, badly.

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) introduced an amendment to the House liquor bill on Thursday hoping to break the decades-long log jam on legalizing Sunday sales. Rather than a state-wide repeal of the Sunday blue law, Loon’s amendment would have allowed municipalities to decide whether to allow liquor sales on Sundays.

“It’s time to allow. Consumers are asking for this. Liquor stores are asking for this,” Loon said.

She had one powerful convert.  Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), the powerful chair of the public safety committee said he had changed his mind on the issue and urged fellow lawmakers to use him as cover to change the vote as well.

“I think the moral arguments, the business arguments, and the law enforcement arguments are archaic,” said Cornish.

But the arguments for keep the Sunday alcohol ban were entrenched in protecting small businesses from big retailers.

Rep. John Considine (DFL-Mankato) said, “We are trying to protect the little business from the big box stores.  And if you’re going to protect little businesses you have to vote down Rep. Loon’s amendment.”

The sentiment was echoed by DFL Rep. Jason Isaacson from Little Canada. “I’m going to side with local main street businesses every time.”

But to many lawmakers the Sunday liquor ban is not just a law that’s outdated, it's a law that they insist consumers want repealed.

“The fact remains, it makes no more sense banning alcohol on Sundays than it does mangos on Mondays, tangerines on Tuesday and watermelons on Wednesdays,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R Mazeppa).

None of the arguments mattered because the votes were as entrenched as they have always been.  Rep. Loon’s amendment failed on a 56-70 vote.

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