In what is now seemingly a yearly tradition at the State Capitol, the effort to end Minnesota’s prohibition on Sunday liquor sales was torpedoed again by a combination of labor and liquor industry interests. Last year’s effort failed on an overwhelming vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Once again, the State Legislature — by kowtowing to special interest pressure — worked against clear majorities of Minnesota citizens. Polling has consistently shown public support for Sunday liquor sales runs over 60%.
What are some of the arguments against Sunday liquor sales? Let’s look at them:
Well, there’s certainly something to be said for competitive pressures. But, let’s face it, there’s more to business success than just being open seven days a week (or as long as your competitors). If that were the case, would it be possible to have a thriving fast food restaurant chain that’s closed on Sundays? Or would it be possible to be a successful general retailer that closed at 10 p.m. every night instead of staying open 24 hours like its main competitor?
There’s nothing in the bill that would require liquor stores to be open seven days a week. In fact, it might make more economic sense for a liquor store to close on Mondays (as some restaurants do) to maximize profits.
But even more to the point — let’s say Campo is right. Why, then, should liquor stores (and auto dealerships) get the benefit of these blue laws? It would be cheaper for every business open seven days a week to only be open six days a week. Target and Best Buy and any number of other retailers would benefit in the same way that liquor stores do. Why not ban all commerce on Sunday, then?
And certainly, employees of other businesses could equally benefit from this line of argument:
The train has already left the station on that one, I’m afraid. It would be nice if everyone could convince the Legislature to dictate a work-free Sunday, but it’s just not practical — nor is it good economics.
See the above answer for a response to the raising prices question. But here’s where things really get interesting. Garofalo has spent significant time this session braying about how Governor Mark Dayton’s budget will drive business over Minnesota borders. Perhaps Garofalo should be equally worried about Minnesota businesses already losing revenue to Wisconsin as he is about whether or not Moorhead gets an Applebee’s.
Even more telling here is how many Republicans (Carver County’s own Joe Hoppe and Ernie Leidiger included) forget about their free market principles on this issue. There’s precisely no free market rationale here to defend this prohibition. And there’s precious little to stand on when it comes to social concern, either. If we’re going to sell liquor in bars and restaurants on Sunday, why not allow people to buy a 12-pack and take it home with them? Isn’t that better than letting them get their buzz on and then drive home?
“It is the year 2013, yet I pay rent 52 days a year that I’m not allowed to open my business, and I think that’s very frustrating. Let’s gain the extra tax revenue. Let’s give the people what they want. Let’s give progressive retailers like myself the ability to run our businesses how we see fit.”
It’s time to put pressure on the Legislature to get out of the way and to do the right thing. If you’re interested in changing this law, I encourage you to contact your legislator as well as supporting organizations like Minnesota Beer Activists that are working to make sure the Legislature listens to the will of the people.