ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota House committee today took the first steps to allowing liquor stores to open on Sundays.
The committee overwhelmingly approved the measure, setting the stage for repealing a law that’s been on the books since the Great Depression. Minnesota’s one of only 12 states that still restricts Sunday liquor store sales.
Ed Schmidt already works six long days a week at his small Stillwater liquor store.
“It’s a Mom and Pop store,” Schmidt, of North Hill Liquors, said.
He’s worried that selling alcohol on Sundays will force him to work a seventh day just to be competitive.
“I wouldn’t be forced to, but I think that customers would eventually migrate to the bigger store, and that puts us out of business,” he said.
Minnesota lawmakers are taking a serious look at repealing the state’s 81-year old ban on Sunday liquor store sales, and there appears to be strong support for scrapping it.
Tamra Kramer sells spices, oils and vinegar — plus wine and spirits — at her Mall of America store, Vam Fass, but she closes half of the store every Sunday.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “The good news is I can serve half my customers needs. The bad news is that I have to stand there all day long and hear them wish they could go into the liquor store.”
The Minnesota bill allows liquor stores to open on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It bans Sunday alcohol deliveries, which was a concern of union truck drivers. Supporters say the bill delivers what consumers are demanding.
“It’s important to note — this does not force anyone to buy liquor on Sunday, or sell liquor on Sunday,” Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) said.
If it passes, Ed Schmidt says he will stay in business as long as he can.
“Vote no! I personally don’t want to see it happen,” he said.
Supporters of the Sunday liquor bill say Minnesota businesses are losing money with a Sunday ban.
Every state and Canadian province around Minnesota has Sunday sales, but Republican leaders say the odds of changing that this year are good.
Governor Mark Dayton says he has more important things to do, like emergency aid for Minnesotans hit by sharp health insurance premium hikes. He did say if it reaches his desk, it will likely become law.