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Minnesota House defeats Sunday liquor sales

ST. PAUL — Another year, another defeat for Sunday liquor sales.

The Minnesota House voted 106-21 Wednesday to retain state law forbidding Sunday liquor store hours. The issue arises regularly in the Legislature, always failing by a large amount.

The vote came on an amendment to a broader liquor bill that generally authorizes liquor sales at specific stadiums, bars and other local sites. The overall bill passed 103-24.

An amendment successfully added by Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, allows Wheeler Field in Duluth to obtain liquor licenses for events with City Council approval. Simonson said the measure would allow Wheeler to function much like Wade Stadium when it comes to liquor sales, so it would not have to go through the costly special use permit process when it hosts softball tournaments.

Most debate, however, centered on the Sunday sales provision, which also would have allowed liquor store sales on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

“Minnesotans want this amendment,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. “Let’s vote on behalf of the people.”

Others, including Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, said because liquor stores essentially would be forced to be open seven days a week, consumers would absorb higher costs the stores would incur.

Drazkowski said three bridges in or near his district that go to Wisconsin provide routes for Minnesotans to buy liquor in stores there. He said up to

40 percent of Wisconsin border stores’ Sunday sales come from Minnesotans.

Author of the Sunday sales amendment, Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said the state tells only car dealers and liquor store owners they must be closed on Sundays.

“We believe that competition is a good thing,” Liebling said. “That is what we do for most retail and most services.”

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