Minnesota lawmakers have once again rejected a proposal to allow off-sale liquor sales on Sundays.
The Senate defeated the proposal by a vote of 35 to 28 on Thursday. A majority of southeast Minnesota lawmakers support scrapping the ban, arguing the law is outdated and hurts the state economically.
Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said every Sunday Minnesotans cross the bridge in Winona to buy liquor in Wisconsin. He added nothing in this bill forces a liquor store to open on Sunday.
"It simply allows liquor stores the opportunity to be open on Sundays if they chose to be open," Miller said.
Critics charged that lifting the ban could force family-owned liquor stores out of business. Sen. Vicki Jensen, DFL-Owatonna, said these small stores are already struggling to compete with large, corporate liquor stores. If the ban were lifted, she said she fears many of these small shops would close. These small business owners "are going to have to make the decision can I do it? Can I continue to do it? And the answer is probably going to be no," Jensen said.
Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, offered an amendment to a larger liquor bill to allow Sunday sales. Lawmakers voting in support of lifting the ban included Miller, Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester; Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing and Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester. Voting against the repeal amendment were Sen. Vicki Jensen, DFL-Owatonna, and Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin.
While Sunday sales failed to pass, senators overwhelmingly approved a liquor bill that would allow the sale of 64 ounce growlers of beers on Sunday. It also includes the so-called "Bloody Mary Bill," which would allow restaurants to sell alcohol beginning at 8 a.m. on Sundays instead of having to wait until 10 a.m.