Minnesota governor signs Sunday liquor into law

PHOTO: Tadson Bussey, Flickr CC

Minnesota’s long Sunday nightmare is over. Today, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a provision that allows the sale of liquor, wine and beer on Sundays.

As I wrote during the legislative debate on this matter, Minnesota has long banned liquor on Sundays as part of an old set of “blue laws.” One part prohibition and one part worker protection, blue laws ensured that people could attend religious services on Sunday.

In recent sessions Sunday sales became a lightning rod for controversy. Just two years ago, the law failed to pass at all.

Ultimately the issue jumped off the typical partisan rails of state politics. Bipartisan support in the House and Senate centered around the idea that businesses should have the choice about whether to be open on Sundays.

Opponents in both parties cited the opposition of small, locally-owned liquor stores, who view the law as a competitive advantage for big box stores. Others cite the lack of social services resources to help people who would be negatively affected by the increased availability of alcohol.

“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,” said Gov. Dayton in a prepared statement.

That amounts to a begrudging “OK, whatever” in political-speak. Dayton had previously opposed Sunday liquor sales. This year the winds blew at the issue’s back.

Thus ends the long tradition of Sunday drives across state lines in border towns like Superior and Hudson, Wisconsin. I would imagine some of the big liquor stores at the base of the bridges are sweating 80 proof over this development.

Interestingly, Minnesota still bans the sale of cars on Sunday. We’ll see if Sunday sales advocates muster enough political support to repeal that long-standing law as well.

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