Editorial: Minnesota Legislature should pass Sunday liquor bill

Published 7:01 am Sunday, February 26, 2017

Star Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Some worry that Sunday liquor sales will increase alcoholism and drunken driving. Others fear that Sunday sales will drive smaller stores out of business. But, according to polls, a healthy majority of Minnesotans believes allowing stores to operate on Sundays is a matter of consumer convenience and commercial freedom.

Email newsletter signup

Though there are some strong feelings for and against Sunday sales, it’s not an issue that has a major effect on a majority of Minnesotans. With that in mind, the state Senate should take up the issue and make a decision quickly so that lawmakers can turn their attention to more important matters.

On this perennial issue, they are closer than ever before. Earlier this week, a bill repealing the antiquated Sunday sales ban was approved by the Senate commerce committee on a 7-4 vote. And a similar bill was easily approved by the full House on a 85-45 vote — the first time a stand-alone repeal bill made it out of committee and to the floor. The measure is expected to be heard by the full Senate as soon as next week.

Sunday liquor sales should clear that hurdle as well because the ban is so far out of step with contemporary lifestyles and commercial practices. Minnesota is one of only 12 states that restricts Sunday sales. The ban was put in place more than a century ago and makes little sense now that Sunday has become a major shopping day for many Americans.

The Senate version of the repeal would allow liquor stores to open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The House bill would let stores open an hour earlier. Should the Senate plan pass next week as is, that small difference could send the bill to conference committee. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign the repeal if it reaches his desk.

Legislators should approve the repeal, send it to governor and turn their attention to matters like health care and transportation.