Minnesota to open doors July 2 to sell liquor on Sundays
ST. PAUL — Starting July 2, Sunday beer runs to Wisconsin and North Dakota will be a thing of the past for Minnesota residents.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Tuesday that repeals the 159-year-old ban on the state's liquor stores operating on Sundays.
For consumers, the repeal was a long time coming. Minnesota is one of a dozen states with so-called "blue laws" that ban liquor stores from operating on Sundays.
"This new law reflects the desires of most people in Minnesota, who have made it clear to their legislators that they want to have this additional option," Dayton said in a statement. He noted that polls have shown two-thirds of residents support allowing liquor stores to operate on Sundays.
Repealing the ban, in place since statehood, has been debated for years, but in the past it faced stiff opposition from lawmakers who feared it would hurt independently run liquor stores.
Small-business owners argued that allowing Sunday sales would stretch six days of purchases over seven days and increase their operating costs. They also worried it would bring more chain and big-box stores into the state that can undercut smaller stores on pricing.
Supporters of the repeal said it was about "freedom" and that government shouldn't dictate the days of the week businesses could operate.
Years of lobbying and a marketing campaign to build public support eventually paid off. This year the repeal had enough momentum that it began to feel inevitable to some lawmakers who decided to switch their votes.
The legislation easily passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
"Just in time for Independence Day, Minnesotans will have the freedom to buy beer and wine on Sunday for the first time in state history beginning July 2nd," House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement.
Under the new law, liquor stores can operate from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday, but cannot accept liquor deliveries. Municipalities are also able to restrict Sunday sales in their communities.
Tuesday was the last day Dayton could sign the Sunday sales repeal before it would become law without his signature. The governor signed the bill in private and has been out of public sight since last week when he underwent prostate surgery.
State Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, chief sponsors of the legislation, celebrated the signing by noting the overwhelming support the measure received from residents.
"Folks, we did it. Because of your efforts, the efforts of the people, liquor stores will now have the choice to be open on Sundays here in the state of Minnesota," Miller said in a video posted online.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.