Senators celebrate Sunday liquor sales on social media

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ST. PAUL — Scrolling through a Sunday sales hashtag on Twitter, Minnesota Senate Democratic staffers briefly pondered a phrase that had been used to describe a bill that would allow Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota: "It's lit."

"I feel like 'lit' is like 'on fleek,' but it would be a little more aggressive," said Ellen Anderson, digital media coordinator with the caucus.

While the caucus communications team may not often have to mull over the interpretation of online slang (fleek means good), the tweet was among a handful discussed during a Twitter question-and-answer event following the Senate Commerce Committee's 7-4 approval of the the bill Wednesday, Feb. 22.

If the Senate version passes as is, Minnesota liquor stores could be open Sundays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. as soon as July. A similar House bill to allow Sundays sales to begin at 10 a.m. passed the House 85-45 earlier this week.

Minnesota never has allowed liquor stores to be open Sundays.

Sens. Susan Kent, D-Woodbury and Matt Klein, D-Mendota Heights, two authors on the bill, tweeted about 20 responses to questions and comments during the hour-long "Twitter town hall" shortly after the committee vote.

During the town hall, #SundaySalesMN was on about 60 tweets.

"There's a dynamic at the Capitol where people think lobbyists have the loudest voice, or people who are here professionally have the biggest voice," Klein said. "This is a way for everyday Joes who are working at their office today to express their views on what we're doing in the legislature."

Although the first tweet senators received contained only a "School House Rock" video, a stream of questions and comments followed.

One tweeter asked when the bill will reach the Senate floor, to which Kent replied the majority leader would decide. The main sponsor of the measure, Winona Republican Jeremy Miller, said it could hit the floor as soon as next week.

Another tweeter asked about the best way for "busy Minnesotans to move #SundaySalesMn ahead."

Kent's response urged supporters to "Contact your Senator!" and included a link to the Legislature's "Who represents me?" page (tinyurl.com/MNLegWho).

Republican Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska was tagged in one of the tweets urging him to support the bill.

"The committee vote was bipartisan and we hope for the same result on the Senate floor," Klein tweeted back.

Several of the tweets commended senators for the bill's success so far in the Legislature.

"As a new senator, it's been impressive to see the success of grassroots democracy on this issue," Klein replied to one comment.

A newcomer to events like a Twitter town hall, Klein said he was surprised by the lack of opposition among the tweets.

"There was no one who managed to log in opposed to Sunday sales, so that way I wonder if it really is entirely reflective of how the whole population thinks of this issue," he said.

The issue of Sunday sales has drawn mixed reaction from both parties.

Opponents of the bill worry it would only benefit big-box retailers and that smaller businesses would not see a high enough sales increase to justify the extra hours.

Supporters, however, say it would bump Minnesota off a shrinking list of states to ban Sunday liquor sales.

Kent said their use of Twitter to reach constituents reflects the movement behind the bill.

"This issue in particular is so grass roots," she said. "It is individuals, and they engage with us on Twitter, individually and email. This is just a natural outcrop of that."

Here are some of the Tweets from last night: