The Minnesota House passed a bill on Monday legalizing the retail sale of alcohol on Sundays, but tipplers must win over a more resistant Senate before they can buy their beer, wine and spirits any day of the week.For the most part, blue laws are gone, although you can't buy a car in Minnesota on Sunday, either. It's never been a major problem for me, since I don't drink much any more, but if you are throwing a football party or something similar, it's nice to have options other than piling in the car and driving to Hudson.
This is the first time in state history that a legislative chamber has passed a bill overturning the Sunday ban, a law that has been in effect since statehood in 1858 and remained in place after Prohibition.
“It’s time to bring Minnesota liquor laws into the 21st century,” said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, the bill’s chief author.
While the Star Tribune article reports that passage in the Senate is far from certain, it's possible we could have a change soon. This is a classic battle of special interests:
A wall of interest group opposition has for years stymied efforts to end the ban. It is led by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars and liquor stores that prefer the status quo and fear the end of the Sunday ban will lead to a cascade of deregulation — and with it, new competition — in what is currently a heavily regulated industry.There's little question that Total Wine's entry into the market has made a difference. We have one nearby in Roseville, and the sheer scope of the enterprise makes smaller liquor stores seem inferior. I've mostly bought my booze from one of the two municipal liquor stores in Saint Anthony, although there are several other choices nearby. If I were looking to have a big blowout, I'd probably go to Total Wine -- the only reason I avoid going there is because it's too close to Rosedale Mall and I'm not a fan of the crowds or traffic in the area. Yeah, I'm getting cranky. Not as cranky as one of the foes of Sunday sales, however. Back to the Strib article:
Tony Chesak, executive director of the group, issued a statement calling the vote “one step in a long legislative process.” Ending the prohibition, Chesak said, would “raise costs for small, family-owned businesses and consumers.”
Deregulating the liquor industry would “lead to reduced choices for consumers and the un-leveling of the playing field in favor of big box retailers,” he said.
A wave of lobbying muscle on the other side, led by such retailers as Total Wine, has weakened resistance to Sunday sales.
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said it was a “libertine” measure representing “licentious freedom.”How do I put this delicately? Gruenhagen is a moron.
“I grew up in a time where adults limited and restricted their freedoms for the benefit of children, when it came to a product that has severe negative consequences,” he said.
On balance, I think opening sales up on Sunday is the right thing to do. Municipal liquor stores are a dubious enterprise on a number of levels, even though I currently use one. I'll be watching the results, more as an academic exercise than anything else.