After last year’s passage of Sunday liquor sales, the Minnesota legislature is reviewing the state’s liquor laws once again.
The new debate is whether residents should be able to buy wine, regular-strength beer, and Minnesota-produced liquor in supermarkets and convenience stores. Although it was discussed last session, the issue will not be up for a vote until the next session, or even further in the future, according to the Minnesota Post.
Discussed in the Senate already, the bill will now head to the House.
There are 44 states that allow regular “strong” beer to be sold in grocery stores, 39 states allow wine, and 22 states allow liquor sales in those outlets. Minnesota’s liquor regulations stem from the post-Prohibition era.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Karin Housley, grocery stores that currently have a license to sell 3.2 percent alcohol beer would be the ones that would be allowed to sell “strong” beer. Minnesota and Utah are the only two states that limit grocery stores to beer of 3.2 percent or less. Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island ban liquor grocery store sales entirely, according to Fox 9.
“We as a state are lagging in changes in the marketplace,” Housley is quoted as saying by the Minnesota Post. “It’s important that we acknowledge that consumer buying habits are changing.”
Those opposed to the bill believe that it would be detrimental to small, independent liquor stores.
“There are very few food retailers that are small businesses anymore,” Jennifer Schonzeit, co-owner of Zipps Liquor Store in Minneapolis, is quoted as saying. Schonzeit cited food retail as an example of business that has been dominated by large businesses.
The bill, Schonzeit continued, “is solely designed to enrich big business and hurt the small. It is picking winners and losers and expanding access to alcohol.”
Sen. Roger Chamberlain also spoke out against the bill. He agreed that the old liquor laws are confusing, but wants to protect small businesses.
“Yeah, it’s wrong. It’s goofy. It doesn’t make any sense. But it’s been around so long that to undo it would cause unnecessary harm to existing mom-and-pop places, for example,” he said.