House Speaker Republican Kurt Daudt says it’s ‘past time’ to lift the ban
St. Paul, MN – In a session preview this week, House Speaker Republican Kurt Daudt predicted 2017 may be the year the Sunday liquor sales ban finally comes to an end.
Lawmakers have talked about lifting the ban for several years , some legislators seem hopeful that the coming session will bring a different outcome. Legislative leaders from both the House and Senate met on Monday to talk with the press about the upcoming session. They discussed Sunday liquor sales during the 90-minute forum, where House Speaker Kurt Daudt expressed his optimism.
“I think we are going to pass Sunday sales out of the House this year,” Daudt said, hinting at an increase in supporters in the House Commerce Committee, the first committee the issue would pass through.
Democratic Rep. Melissa Hortman, incoming minority leader, opposed lifting the ban in previous sessions, but stated on Monday she is “open minded” to Sunday sales. In the past, her concern focused on how this would affect small businesses in comparison to the big box liquor stores, but she indicated willingness to reconsider to her stance.
Speaker Daudt doesn’t believe lifting the ban will have any negative repercussions for the smaller businesses, noting that repealing the ban does not mean stores are forced to be open, “if a liquor store doesn’t want to be open on Sunday, they don’t have to.”
The legislature considered the issue of Sunday liquor sales last session in March 2016, but the House ultimately shot down the measure in a 70-56 vote. With increased confidence from House leaders in their ability to get a majority vote, the attention turns to the Senate, where a repeal would face an equally tough battle.
When asked about the issue, Senate Minority Leader-Elect Tom Bakk seemed steadfast in his opinion stating, “I am going to vote no on Sunday sales.”
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Republican Paul Gazelka was less adamant on his position, showing some room for consideration.
“I generally am a ‘no’ on Sunday sales, but I want to see what our caucus thinks on that,” Gazelka commented, “Stay tuned.”
Governor Dayton was unable to attend the press conference due to illness, but has stated in the past that he would be willing to sign a bill repealing the ban should one come across his desk.