MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – That Sunday beer-run across the border could become a thing of the past.

Minnesota lawmakers introduced bills Thursday to repeal a decades-long ban on Sunday liquor store sales.

Thirty-eight states allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays, but repeated attempts to repeal the Minnesota law have failed.

“It’s just a matter of time before this change occurs,” said State Rep. Jennifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, the House author of the bill. “It’s not if, it’s when.”

Dave Hansen, who owns Hansen’s Liquor in Stillwater, knows he has a great location in a great town.

Except on Sundays.

“Just up that hill, a stone’s throw away, is another liquor store,” Hansen said, pointing at the Stillwater Bridge across the St. Croix River to Wisconsin, which allows Sunday sales.

Every car Hansen sees driving across the bridge on Sunday gives him the same thought: “Lost dollars, lost revenue.”

Hansen is among a group of liquor store owners supporting a bill to repeal the Sunday ban.

A repeal some lawmakers say is long overdue.

“Here we are–a state that in the last couple of years has made marriage equality law,” said State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth. A state that “has dealt with the issue of medical marijuana. But somehow liquor sales on Sunday is somehow too much? That’s a bridge too far?”

Minnesota is one of the last states with a ban on Sunday liquor store sales.

Every state around Minnesota, including the Canadian provinces, sells on Sunday.

But repealing the ban isn’t easy.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association says Sunday sales could hurt small Mom and Pop stores by adding a seventh day of cost, but not an extra day of sales profit.

The MLBA said in a written statement:

“Alcohol policy is always a hot topic at the beginning of each legislative session. This year is no different. The many small business owners and members of the MLBA look forward to talking with newly elected and returning legislators and sharing our stories. In the past, many senators and representatives have understood the importance of our current smart and balanced alcohol policy in the state. We hope to keep those legislators on the side of small business.”

Dave Hansen sees it differently. He calculates that he loses $75,000 a year by closing his doors on Sunday.

“The only added cost would be for staffing,” he said. “The lights are on. The cooler is always running. We’re paying the rent.”

Gov. Mark Dayton said the Sunday ban doesn’t make sense, and he’ll sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

But he said it’s not a priority for him, and he won’t spend any political capital to pass it.

Pat Kessler

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