ST. PAUL - Minnesotans who forget to buy booze will remain out of luck on Sundays after the state House Thursday rejected a proposal to allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week.
The proposal failed 70-57 as an amendment to a small bill with other liquor-related provisions that unanimously passed.
The major argument against Sunday sales was that it would hurt small liquor stores. Some say it would force them to remain open seven days if they are to remain competitive.
Owners of those small stores have told legislators over the years that the bill would mean that six days of profit would be spread over seven days.
"Think about main street businesses folks," Rep. Laurie Halverson, D-Eagan, said.
Representatives also hesitated giving people more chances to buy alcohol.
"The greater access to alcohol ... the more chance there is there will be greater number of alcohol crimes," Rep. Joe Atkins, D-Inver Grove Heights, said.
The bill sponsor said Sunday sales is a time that has come.
"I think it is time we step forward and let local municipalities make that decision on off-sale liquor," Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said.
Her plan called for allowing local governments to decide whether Sunday sales would be permitted. Local officials also could set Sunday hours, as long as it fit within 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"This is an issue of freedom, economic freedom, freedom for consumers," Loon said.
She said states that have dropped Sunday sales bans report 4 percent to 7 percent increases on liquor-related sales tax revenues. Much of the increase, she said, would come from Minnesotans who longer would drive to other states to buy booze.
Minnesota is one of a dozen states banning Sunday sales.
One of the issues those who support the Loon amendment frequently brought up was the business lost to other states.
"You can go to Fargo on a Sunday ... and you are going to see the parking lots of those liquor stores riddled with Minnesota license plates," Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said.
Anderson said she went to a Hudson, Wis., liquor store on a recent Sunday and nine of 10 vehicles had Minnesota plates. When those left, more Minnesota cars replaced them, she said.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, D-Minneapolis, said the ban is a "church provision" that is outdated.
Atkins complained that the Loon provision was not taken up by a committee this year, so Minnesotans did not have a chance to testify about the issue.
Rep. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul Park, said he thought that besides allowing Sunday liquor sales, cars also should be sold that day, too. Loon's amendment did not open the garage door for car sales.
"Get out of the way for everything," Schoen told government.
Big stores such as Wal-Mart want to sell liquor on Sundays, Schoen said, while small stores are doing more to contribute to local communities.
Thursday's vote follows a series of defeats in recent years.
In 2013, the House downed the proposal 106-21. The next year, the Senate defeated a similar measure 42-22. It got closer in 2015, with senators voting against it 35-28 and representatives 75-57.