Debate over Sunday liquor sales in Minn. heats up in the legislature

By KBJR News 1

March 19, 2014 Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 3:37 AM CDT

St. Paul, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) -- The battle to approve Sunday liquor sales is once again heating up at the Minnesota State Capitol.

On Wednesday, lawmakers held the first hearing for seven bills seeking to change the state's alcohol retailing policies.

Currently, 38 of the 50 states allow liquor stores to be open on Sunday and Minnesota is pushing to become the 39th.

"The Twins stadium, you look at the option that folks have six days a week. They can go to a game and come get a pint after. It doesn't make sense that they can't do it on the seventh day just because it happens to be Sunday," said Ben Flattum, who is with the Minnesota Brewers Association.

Wednesday's senate committee meeting in St. Paul gave Duluth DFL Senator Roger Reinert, and members of the public, a chance to share their views on Sunday liquor sales; a conversation that has been going on for years.

Sen. Reinert has laid out seven variations on his proposal to allow Sunday sales and two of those ideas were discussed on Wednesday.

"That is to allow growler sales on Sundays and allow taproom sales on Sundays," said Sen. Reinert.

He said if this plan is approved many small businesses would likely see a boost in profits.

"If we want to help those small businesses, as many of us I know do, the best way to do that is with some of these in–house sales where they have their largest profit of margin," said the Senator.

Brewers say allowing growler sales on Sundays would give people the opportunity to try a variety of new beer flavors.

"For a lot of us it includes beers that we don't normally produce, we don't normally distribute. It's only in house that you can purchase it. It's exclusive from what we would sell to liquor stores, or other establishments," said Flattum.

However, the bills have been met with considerable opposition.

"People have Friday's and Saturday's to buy their liquor needs, and so there's no need to be purchasing on Sunday," said Floriane Brown who is against having liquor sales on Sunday.

And the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association shares a similar viewpoint.

They say unless alcohol consumption increases throughout the state, many smaller shops would actually see a loss in revenue.

While the drawn out legislative process has been soberingly slow, many lawmakers say the debate over Sunday liquor sales has just begun.

A second committee meeting on the omnibus liquor bill will likely be held within the next two weeks.

Following that meeting, the bill will go to the senate.