Wright County Senators were split on Monday, Feb. 27 as the Minnesota State Senate voted 38-28 in favor of ending the ban on Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota.
The so-called “blue law,” which prohibits the sale of alcohol in any “off-sale” liquor store site, was already struck down by the Minnesota House by a wide margin earlier this month. Most local county lawmakers, including Rep. Eric Lucero, along with nearby Sherburne County legislator Nick Zerwas, voted for Sunday sales and the repeal of the blue law. Rep. Joe McDonald of Delano, a Republican, voted no, however.
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, who represents much of the North Wright County Today coverage area, joined her local lawmakers in support of the Senate version of the bill. But Sen. Bruce Anderson, a longtime member of the Minnesota Legislature from Buffalo, voted against the 2017 bill. Anderson has said, in the past, he didn’t support the burden on local distributors or municipal liquor outlets, both of which have a big presence in his district.
This is the first time in history the bill made it out of the House and onto the Senate floor, and there was plenty of debate. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL) of outstate Minnesota said the repeal would be a “death knell” for “mom and pop” establishments in small towns across the state, speeding up a process where all Minnesotans are going to be forced to shop at “big box” stores.
Republicans were in line against the bill, too, saying it was unnecessary to repeal a ban when folks can buy beer on Saturday in preparation for Sunday, which some see as a “family day.”
Others said government needed to get out of the way of the market, and that store owners large and small can be in charge of their own decisions. “We have plenty of restaurants that stay closed on Monday,” one lawmaker said. “No reason a liquor store owner can’t choose to keep his establishment closed on Sundays. They’re not going to be required to open at all.”