Why Minnesota lawmakers are confident Sunday liquor sales will pass in 2017

UPDATE - Sunday liquor sales passes Minnesota House

The long-debated ban on Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota is on the House chopping block this week. If lawmakers pass House Bill HF30 you could soon buy booze within our borders on Sundays.

The Prohibition-era issue receives attention year after year, but never has it moved forward like it has in 2017.

Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt, a co-author of House Bill HF30, has voted against Sunday liquor sales in the past. Nonetheless, he remains confident change will soon be on tap.

“This is one of those antiquated laws that people really want to see changed,” Daudt told Fox 9 on Sunday.

“We believe we’ll have 72-75 votes. It takes 68 votes to pass the bill so it’s exciting,” he said.

The vote is scheduled to take place 3:30 p.m. on Monday.

“If members have not been honest with us or they changed their minds, it may not pass, but we’re pretty confident that it will tomorrow,” Daudt said.

Lawmakers in previous years added the bill as an amendment on the House floor. But, this year the bill garnered so much support that, for the first time, it passed out of committee on its own.

“It’s time everyone catch up with that industry and at least have the option. Sunday sales isn’t going to force anyone to be open,” said Minnesota beer activist Andrew Schmitt.

As a proponent of Sunday liquor sales, Schmitt does acknowledge concerns from small liquor store owners, but says only half of them refuse to participate should the bill make it to the Governor’s desk.

“The ones that it’ll work for, they’ll stay open. The ones that don’t, they’re more than happy to stay closed," Schmitt said. "That’s the way it works around the rest of the country, and they do just fine. We can do it here in Minnesota, too."

Liquor store owners large or small will have the liberty to choose which Sunday hours, if any, are best for them.

“We have taken into account some of their concerns and minimized the number of hours liquor stores could be open on Sunday. We’re allowing them to do from 10-6 p.m., which is one eight-hour shift, instead of having it longer which would be more than one eight-hour shift. So, we’re trying to take into consideration their concern,” Daudt said.

Daudt is certainly not the only lawmaker who more than once voted “no” on repealing the Sunday liquor sale ban. Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis) has historically voted against the measure, but he will change his vote for the first time on Monday afternoon.

“I’ve always opposed it in the past and again, I think there still are some good policy arguments about that, about helping small liquor stores survive and those kinds of things, but at the end of the day I think it’s time to trust the people of Minnesota on this one,” Thissen said.

Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated he’s ready to sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. If this bill does pass in the House and the Senate takes action over the next few weeks, Minnesotans could be able to buy alcohol on Sundays as early the July 4 holiday weekend.