Repeal the Ban on Sunday Liquor Sales

Published by MNA on

Photo of three green, capped glass bottles in ice.

By August Berkshire

Once again a bill has been introduced in the Minnesota legislature to try to repeal the state’s ban on Sunday liquor sales at liquor stores. Governor Mark Dayton has signaled his willingness to sign the repeal, though it is not a priority for him.

On January 14th, Representative Jenifer Loon issued the following press release:

The time has come for state government to abolish this outdated law and move the decision closer to the people. While local governments should have the final say in how these sales are controlled, our citizens and businesses deserve a less restrictive regulatory climate that invites competition, creates jobs and brings fundamental freedom back to our communities. While I understand and appreciate some of the concerns raised by opponents of Sunday sales in the past, none of our neighboring states ban off-sale liquor sales on Sunday, and Minnesota is one of only 12 states nationwide with such a law. I have worked with both Republicans and Democrats who are ready to make this small but important change to our state statutes and enhance our economic competitiveness.

The legislation would amend Minnesota Statutes section 340A.504, subd. 4 by removing a current statewide ban on Sunday sales.

This is an issue that crosses party lines and has mostly to do with geography. Cities near the Minnesota border that lose Sunday liquor sales to neighboring states tend to have the greatest support for repealing the law. Some other liquor stores, which are not near the border, oppose the repeal, saying that adding another day of sales will reduce their profits by spreading the same amount of weekly sales over an additional day while incurring more costs, such as labor and utilities, in order to be open for that extra day.

At this point the issue is purely economic, but the origins of this ban are religious. Sunday was hardly chosen at random. Minnesota Atheists opposes these old blue laws as a violation of separation of state and church.
On March 16, 2011, Minnesota Atheists testified in favor a similar bill, SF 197, at a hearing of the Minnesota State Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection. We have contacted Representative Loon’s office to offer our testimony again.

If Representative Loon is your representative, please let us know. You can contact me directly at 612-868-2267 or dir1@mnatheists.org.

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