The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 26, 2013

Sunday liquor sales killed again by lobby

(Continued)

Reinert told MinnPost that if consumers want the longstanding law to change, they have to do something to combat the powerful interests pushing for the status quo.

“You have a powerful lobby in the liquor stores. You have a powerful union with the Teamsters, and those two pair up, and they’re here every day talking to legislators,” Reinert said.

“Everybody always asks me, ‘Who’s asking for this?’ People. Remember those folks out there that we’re supposed to represent that shouldn’t have to have a lobbyist and an organization to make something happen? That’s who’s in favor of it.”

A grass-roots group called Minnesota Beer Activists has come forward to fill that void.

Andrew Schmitt, the organization’s director, thanked Metzen for holding the hearing after it had finished and casually dropped into conversation that the group had a 2,000-person-strong petition asking for Sunday sales.

Reinert believes that’s the sort of action necessary to change the law. He points to the success of the so-called “Surly bill” — which came from the support of beer lovers across the state.

“I think the politicians are used to hearing lobbyists. They’re down here every day, but consumers don’t have a chance to get their voice heard. They’re busy working, paying the bills,” Schmitt said. “Although we don’t make great beer, we sure support it. That’s one of the great challenges. As a consumer organization, we don’t have a bunch of money to throw behind it.”

Commerce Committee Chairman James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, said he’s likely willing to have a straightforward vote on the measure if Reinert pushes for it. 

Metzen, who said he hasn’t formed an opinion on the issue, said he isn’t sure if it would pass through the committee. “That’s why I think [Reinert’s] hesitating,” he said.

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