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Minnesota House rejects Sunday liquor store sales

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ST. PAUL — Minnesotans hoping to be able to buy a six-pack of beer on Sundays are out of luck.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected an effort by a Rochester lawmaker to allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays.

DFL Rochester Rep. Tina Liebling offered an amendment on Wednesday to a liquor bill that would allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. Minnesota is one of only 12 states that prohibits liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

"For me, this is about consumers. It's about letting liquor stores operate the same ways other stores operate," she said.

But opponents argued that it would hurt mom and pop liquor stores because they would have to open on Sundays in order to remain competitive with their big box counterparts.

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"Your mom and pop liquor stores all across Minnesota do not want this," said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

Lawmakers defeated the proposal 106-21. Proposals to allow Sunday liquor store sales have always faced fierce opposition from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and some union groups. The issue cuts across party lines, making for some unusual political bedfellows. Strongly supporting Liebling's effort was Mazeppa Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski.

Drazkowski said Minnesota is losing business to states like Wisconsin where people stream across the border on Sundays to buy liquor. He added that polls continually show Minnesotans support Sunday liquor store sales.

"The people of Minnesota want this amendment. Let's vote on behalf of the people," he said.

Among those voting no was Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron. He said liquor store owners don't think Sunday liquor sales would generate enough additional revenue to offset the costs of being open an additional day.

"Frankly, it's nice to have a family day," he said. "It's not like people can't go to a restaurant or someplace."

The Minnesota House voted 106-21 against a proposal to allow liquor stores to open on Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. A yes vote supports Sunday liquor sales.

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Yes:  Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa; Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester; and Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.

No:Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester; Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston; Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing; Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona; Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin; Rep. Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, and Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron.

Not voting:Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault.

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