Minnesota Senate approves Sunday liquor sales; bill likely heading to conference committee

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Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

By a vote of 38-28, the Minnesota Senate today passed a bill to lift the Prohibition-era ban on Sunday liquor sales. However, due to a discrepancy between the Senate bill and the one passed by the House of Representatives last week, the legislation is now likely headed for a conference committee where lawmakers from both legislative bodies will try to come to a resolution.

The Senate version limits the hours of operation for liquor retailers on Sundays to 11am–6pm, while the House version sets the hours of operation at 10am–6pm.

The author of the House bill, Rep. Jenifer Loon (R–Eden Prairie), can now either bring the Senate version of the bill back to the House floor for another vote or send it straight to a conference committee. If it’s brought back before the House, members would vote to either concur with the Senate version of the bill and send it onto the governor for his signature with an 11am opening time, or reject the Senate version and trigger the conference committee process. Whatever decision the conference committee lands on would then need to be voted on by both the House and Senate. Governor Mark Dayton has stated that if a Sunday sales bill reaches his desk he’d sign it into law.

In a statement issued after the Senate vote, Rep. Loon said, “I will be reviewing the differences between the House and Senate versions of this bill, and come to a decision soon on whether to concur or negotiate our differences in a conference committee.”

If a Sunday sales bill is signed into law, individual municipalities will still have the ability to limit or restrict Sunday liquor sales within their jurisdiction, in accordance with Minnesota state statute 340A.504, Subd. 6. For example, according to Sen. David Senjem (R–Rochester), Rochester, Minnesota, already has a law on the books that bans Sunday liquor sales, which supersedes any change at the state level.

Three amendments were introduced to the bill during discussion on Monday, each of which was either voted down or withdrawn. One would have allowed car dealerships to be open on Sundays, one would have given grocery stores in the seven-county metro area the ability to sell wine in the aisles of their stores, and the third would have directed 50 percent of sales tax revenue from Sunday sales of alcohol to the Minnesota Department of Health for chemical dependency programs.

The Growler will continue to cover Sunday sales legislation as the conference committee process unfolds over the coming weeks. Check back for updates.

 
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Keith Grauman About Keith Grauman

Keith Grauman is the web editor at The Growler. When he's not drinking beer at work, he can be found homebrewing, reading comics or playing with his kids in the front yard of his south Minneapolis home.