There's been much happy buzz about MinnPost's Briana Bierschbach's fine piece posted on Wednesday, New faces at Capitol give hope to those pushing an old issue: overturning Minnesota's ban on Sunday liquor sales.
Bierschbach interviewed Andrew Schmitt, executive director of the Minnesota Beer Activists, and discussed the results of the candidate questionnaire the tenacious advocate sent out:
So ahead of the fall election, Schmitt sent out a survey to every candidate running for the Minnesota Legislature to see where they stood on the Sunday liquor ban. Schmitt didn’t get a response back from everyone, but the ones he did get back were encouraging, with new candidates being much more open to lifting the ban.
Now, heading into the 2017 session, which will convene just after the start of the new year, both sides of the Sunday sales issue are surveying the new makeup of the Legislature to see where the votes could land. In all, there will be 21 new state senators and 23 new House members in the 201-seat Legislature when session convenes — more than enough votes to swing the issue.
“It would be very premature to say that [we have the votes],” Schmitt said. “But there is a lot of new blood, which is good.” . . .
Unfortunately for those of us who want to buy our adult beverages seven days a week, another candidate survey and statewide voter guide by those anti-Sunday sales bluenoses at the Minnesota Family Council, reveals that some of the new faces might not have answered Schmitt's survey, while telling the socially conservative party poopers that they would have voted against Sunday sales.
While the Beer Activists appears to have asked the more general question about full legalization of Sunday alcohol sales, the Minnesota Family Council scored a 2016 vote on Eden Prairie Republican Jenifer Loon's bill to allow municipalities to allow Sunday sales if they wished ("Would you have voted to support or oppose authorizing individual municipalities to allow Sunday liquor sales? (2016 House Journal, p. 8059)").
The St. Paul Pioneer Press's Tory Cooney reported last May in No Minnesota Sunday liquor store sales in 2016, either, House votes:
Minnesota’s 158-year-old ban on Sunday liquor store sales will remain for at least another year.
The House voted 70-56 to keep the ban in place Thursday.
Minnesota is one of a dozen with similar blue laws. Most of the other states are southern, along with Utah, Montana, and Indiana.
Minnesota already allows a few exceptions, mostly approved in recent years. Craft breweries and microdistilleries can make limited sales on Sundays. Restaurants and bars can serve alcohol with municipal approval.
“This is an issue of freedom: economic freedom, freedom for consumers,” said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, whose proposal would have allowed Sunday sales with municipal approval. “The time has come.”
The side-by-side comparison of the answers from winning candidates in the Minnesota House is embedded below. Since the Minnesota Family Council only included a Sunday alcohol sales question for the Minnesota House in its voter guide, we haven't looked at the Minnesota state senate.
While not a one-on-one comparison of the same language, Bluestem thinks it's enough to slow down celebratory cork popping, as newy elected lawmakers like Republicans Matt Gossell, Sandy Layman and Mary Shapiro told the MFC they would have voted against Loon's bill.
We've pulled out the answers to both surveys by the winners in all 133 Minnesota House seats where voters had a chance to elect someone. (Sorry, MN32B voters). We're hoping this handy chart will help focus the efforts to gain a majority of votes in the House.
Legislators whose position isn't known are highlighted in yellow, while we've bolded those who answered "No" to the MFC survey while not returning the MBA survey--or who have contradictory answers on the surveys (incumbents who likely are more sensitive to the nuances of the differences in the language in the surveys.
Photo: Women's Christian Temperance Union members picketing for Prohibition. via Minnesota Historical Society. Our grandmother Sorensen was a member, while Grandpa and the family cat were not.
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