Dayton’s signature means Sunday liquor sales start in July

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ST. PAUL — Beginning in July, Minnesotans can start buying liquor on Sundays after Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Tuesday lifting the state’s decade-old ban.

Dayton’s signature caps off an intense and growing effort at the Capitol that goes back years to repeal the Prohibition-era restriction. Liquor stores can choose to open their doors between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays, though many cities would first have to repeal their own local bans on Sunday liquor sales.

Minnesota was one of just 12 states that still banned liquor stores from opening on Sundays while all of its neighbors legalized Sunday liquor sales. Lifting that ban has been a perennial topic for nearly a decade at the Legislature but those efforts failed by wide margins, resisted by liquor industry organizations who argued it would merely saddle small liquor stores with more costs without adding additional revenue.

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But those efforts hit a critical mass in 2017, boosted by bigger campaigns by everyday citizens to sway lawmakers and a concerted push from Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt.

More than 40 returning lawmakers in the House and Senate voted to lift the ban this year after previously voting to preserve it. Combined with an influx of new lawmakers who were more likely than their predecessors to support the repeal, bills to legalize Sunday liquor sales easily passed.

Dayton was never a vocal proponent but vowed he’d sign a bill if it ever reached his desk.

“This new law reflects the desires of most people in Minnesota, who have made it clear to their legislators that they want to have this additional option,” the Democratic governor said in a statement after signing the bill.