The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

February 26, 2013

Sunday liquor sales killed again by lobby

— A key backer of Sunday liquor sales acknowledges that the perennial issue isn’t going anywhere this session.

The Senate Commerce Committee heard Sen. Roger Reinert’s alcohol bill on Monday, but no vote was taken.

The Democrat from Duluth said Sunday sales legislation doesn’t currently have a House committee hearing scheduled, and said it’s unlikely the measure will come up for a vote in the Senate.

“This issue is not going anywhere, and it’s not going anywhere until all of the people out there who stop me all the time and say, ‘Hey, we love it,’ are willing to do more than just tell me they love it,” a beleaguered Reinert said in an interview. “Primarily because the strength of the liquor store lobby.”

Backers of the bill include individual liquor stores and — polling suggests — most of the public, but union members and the mainstream liquor lobby have pushed hard against the measure for many years.

The political director of the Teamsters Joint Council 32 and a lobbyist for the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association both testified Monday against the legislation.

The Teamsters oppose the bill because the union’s members don’t want to work on Sundays.

Marryann Campo, who has worked with South Lyndale Liquors since 1975, said her family opposes Sunday sales because it wouldn’t be economically beneficial for their business.

Supporters, including Jason Alvey, owner of the St. Louis Park specialty liquor store the Four Firkins, say the law wouldn’t force any business to stay open on Sundays.

Reinert considers Sunday liquor sales as a free-market issue.

“It is the year 2013, yet I pay rent 52 days a year that I’m not allowed to open my business, and I think that’s very frustrating,” Alvey told the committee. “Let’s gain the extra tax revenue. Let’s give the people what they want. Let’s give progressive retailers like myself the ability to run our businesses how we see fit.”

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