Time to end ban on Sunday liquor sales

The Minnesota House voted 85-45 Monday to repeal the Prohibition-era Sunday liquor sales ban.

The passage was historic because state lawmakers have never allowed a full vote on a bill to overturn the law and defeated parliamentary amendments to sneak a repeal into larger bills.

Even Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, was surprised by the vote. He thought the final tally would be much closer.

The support in the House probably indicates the law doesn’t make sense in today’s world. Minnesota is just one of a dozen states with similar blue laws. Most of the states are southern, along with Utah, Montana and Indiana.

On Jan. 19, the Independent published an editorial from The Journal of New Ulm. The Journal argued that the Legislature should support the bill to reverse the ban. It recognized the concern by opponents that Sunday sales will actually hurt small liquor stores and municipal liquor stores. Any Sunday revenues would not cover the extra operating costs.

“We don’t think it will cause much harm to allow liquor stores to open on Sunday. Those store owners who think they’ll lose money should be allowed to stay closed. It’s their business. But they shouldn’t expect the state to keep their competitors from engaging in business at the same time,” The Journal said.

The Independent also believes the present ban is too restrictive on the freedom of business.

The group MN Consumers First Alliance claims Minnesota loses more than $10 million in annual tax revenue because of Sunday closings.

How will reversing the ban affect Lyon County? Hard to tell.

Like Marshall, Apple Valley operates a municipal store. A Twin Cities Pioneer report Monday quoted the director of its liquor operations.

“It’s basically keeping the lights on and the doors open for additional hours and doing it for the same amount of sales,” he said. “You have the additional expenses of being open and the sales ultimately just shift.”

That director may be right. However, every municipal liquor store and private businesses should be allowed to make their own business decisions.

You can buy a growler on Sunday and you can go to a bar on Sunday. Where is the consistency?

We urge the Senate to follow suit and vote to repeal the ban.