What’s next for Sunday liquor sales ban?

Published 9:47 am Monday, April 20, 2015

The defeat last week of a repeal of the Sunday liquor sales ban is good news for at least one Albert Lea liquor store.

Ron Freeman, owner of Fountain Warehouse Liquor in Albert Lea, is happy the Senate shot down the bid to repeal the ban.

Freeman said his store would get no extra business if it were open on Sunday, so it would be essentially the same amount of business spread over seven days instead of six.

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While the Senate defeated the ban repeal, the House has yet to pass a liquor bill, so an amendment could still be made there.

Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett

However, Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said that as the ban wasn’t repealed in the Senate, it is unlikely that it will become law.

Bennett isn’t on the committee looking at the House’s liquor package, but she said an amendment about repealing the state’s Sunday liquor sales ban could come up and that she has heard some talk

about an amendment.

While Bennett isn’t sure about when the bill might come to the House floor, she has been doing some research since the topic came up in the Senate. Bennett said she called all of the liquor stores in District 27A and talked to them about repealing the ban, and she said most did not want the bill to pass.

“It would actually potentially hurt a lot of our smaller liquor stores,” Bennett said, noting that some could potentially go out of business.

Bennett said the ban is a tough issue. While she believes government shouldn’t be involved in telling businesses when they should or shouldn’t be open, she also sees that the ban has been a reality for many years and the public has learned to live with it.

“We have to make sure we’re not doing any harm when we’re doing this,” Bennett said. “It’s not such a black and white issue as we might think.”

While Freeman wants to keep the ban as it is, he thinks it’s going to happen soon as the Senate’s vote was much closer than before — 35 to 28, with four senators absent.

The repeal of the Sunday liquor sales ban was an amendment to a broader liquor bill. Out of those wishing to keep the ban, 24 were Democrats and 11 were Republicans. Out of the dissenters, 13 were Democrats and 15 were Republicans.

“I think it’s eventually going to pass,” Freeman said. “When it does, we’ll go with it and be happy with it.”