Minnesota has Sunday liquor sales, higher fees, new budget

Published 11:35 pm Saturday, July 1, 2017

ST. PAUL — Looser booze laws and a new budget highlight the fruit of the Minnesota Legislature’s labor taking effect as July begins.

The focus on passing a two-year budget meant fewer bills were moving at the state Capitol than in years past. But one big-ticket item may shine even brighter than the state’s brand new budget (hint: you can buy some champagne this Sunday to celebrate it).

Here’s a look at what new laws take effect as July starts.

The budget

Through thousands of pages, there’s too much to list. At its heart, the new $46 billion spending package that kicked in Saturday offers more funding for preschool programs, shifts hundreds of millions of dollars in spending toward road and bridge repairs and smaller items, including $20 million to expand broadband internet service in rural Minnesota.

New tax credits and reductions for college students with tuition debt, aspiring first-time homeowners and seniors collecting Social Security income will be available for the next tax filing season.

But one item is still in flux: Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s funding for leverage in a battle over tax breaks and other measures. A judge extended House and Senate operating funds through September as a lawsuit progresses.

Higher fees

Campers, hikers and off-road enthusiasts are paying slightly more.

Permits for state parks increased, with daily passes jumping from $5 to $7 and annual passes increasing from $25 to $35. The Department of Natural Resources fought for those increases to help maintain their parks.

Snowmobile and ATV registration fees also saw a modest hike. Higher prices for deer hunting and fishing permits won’t take effect until next year.

Sunday liquor sales

For those living under rocks, you finally can buy booze in Minnesota this Sunday.

Gone are the days of cross-border liquor runs on the Sabbath as Minnesota allows Sunday liquor sales for the first time in state history. The repeal of the old Blue Law was decades in the making, thanks to an influx of new lawmakers and some who previously voted no changing their minds.

Lawmakers from both parties have celebrated its passage as a major win and a populist cause. It’s up to individual liquor stores to choose to open, and many individual cities still had to reverse their own bans.

Autism help

More help is on the way for young adults suffering from autism.

Lawmakers expanded a 2013 law that provides treatment for children on the autism spectrum, allowing that treatment for adults younger than 21 and broadening which conditions qualify.