"I really don't think this bill will pass."
That was MGM Wine & Spirits Owner Cole Pederson's response when he heard that a bipartisan bill reintroduced in the Senate this week would repeal the long-standing ban of selling off-sale liquor on Sundays—and would allow liquor store owners the option of being open for business seven days a week.
"They have tried to reintroduce this bill a number of times, and it doesn't pass," Pederson told Patch. "But if it does, the industry will have to adjust."
Public opinion polls show Minnesotans are in favor of Sunday sales, but Pederson said that keeping his Maple Grove store open for another day each week would be costly.
One way to better understand the issue is to look at the lobbyists behind it.
The state’s liquor lobby—made up of Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association (representing 90 percent of the city-owned liquor stores) and the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association—have long opposed a repeal of the ban.
"We just want to keep things as they are," Frank Ball, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, told the Star Tribune this week. "Wisconsin's got their way of doing things, and Minnesotans have their way of doing things."
While repealing the Sunday ban makes sense for border towns, it likely wouldn’t benefit stores in the middle of the state. Pederson said that to make the extra work day worth it, the store would have to sell a large amount of alcohol—something that Pederson doesn't think will happen.
"I think if we're open on Sundays, our sales on Fridays and Saturdays will just shift," he said. "The amount of additional sales that we would need to bring in would have to be substantial in order to cover the additional cost of staffing. And I just don't see the demand."
There are also moral implications.
"There are plenty of people that have alcohol problems," nearby Plymouth Liquors Manager Jim Christensen said. "I already have people who are in here every day that we're open. Now those people are going to be here 7 days a week."
Currently, Minnesota is one of 12 states that still ban liquor sales on Sunday.
According to a MinnPost report on a policy analysis presented two years ago during a Senate hearing, Sunday sales in Minnesota could mean an estimated $7.6 million to $10.6 million in new tax revenues.
The bill was reintroduced by Senators Roger Reinert (D-Duluth) and Jeremy Miller (R-Winona).
The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. If the Senate Commerce Committee Chair James Metzen decides to hear the bill it will continue to move along in the political process; if not, the bill is likely to die before making it to the floor for discussion.