Minnesota Poll: Most support bill allowing Sunday liquor store salesA bill that would allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday enjoys broad public support, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
By: Eric Roper, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) / MCT
A bill that would allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday enjoys broad public support, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they support the proposal, while 34 percent oppose it -- although views splintered along lines of age, geography and education.
Support was nearly twice as high among respondents age 35 to 44 as among those 65 and older, and higher among college graduates than among those with no college.
The bill passed a Senate committee in March, for the first time in recent history, although it later stalled in the House.
Minnesota is one of 13 states that forbid the sale of wine and liquor on Sundays outside of bars and restaurants; all surrounding states allow it.
The state's powerful liquor lobby has fought aggressively to preserve the 153-year-old ban, arguing that liquor stores need one day of rest.
The law would not require liquor stores to open their doors on Sundays, but some say competition would force them to.
"I don't find these numbers shocking, mainly because there is the next generation of social drinkers coming in, and they want convenience," said Frank Ball, who represents the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the largest foe.
"What's wrong with that?" responded Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, the Senate sponsor. He said supporters must mobilize for the bill to advance in the House, where a committee chairman refused to give it a hearing. "If these [poll] numbers are true, legislators need to feel that in the Capitol," Reinert said. "Because I would say right now what they feel is completely the reverse, if not worse."
The bill has been a perennial topic at the Capitol, and the issue prompts age-old debates among Minnesotans.
Ed Koch of Duluth said Minnesota should not be sending business to Wisconsin. "We can drive across the bridge and buy liquor in Superior on Sunday," said Koch, 63. "I just think we should be able to do it in Duluth as well."
Others, like Kay Grenz of Blaine, said the current law helps tamp down alcoholism. "There's a huge drug and alcohol problem in this country as it is," Grenz said. "I just overall think if they shut it down and kept it shut down on one day of the week it would help."
Some respondents said they see no need to change the status quo.
"I grew up without liquor on Sundays and we did just fine," said 73-year-old Mary Jarnot, who lives in Rice, Minn.
But others questioned why the state preserves a law with religious origins.
"We're a country that's church and state separate," said Minneapolis resident Kimberly Beck, 39. "So I don't see the purpose in prohibiting certain sales on Sundays."
At the Capitol, the proposal has forged some odd alliances between its DFL authors and free-market Republicans.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced it as a floor amendment to a liquor bill on Tuesday, and it received praise from ultra-conservative Reps. Mark Buesgens and Steve Drazkowski. She ultimately withdrew the amendment amid promises that the bill would get a more complete airing next year.
"I have had more people contact me in support of [Sunday sales] this year than I ever have since I've been here," said Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, the committee chairman who opted not to hear the bill.
The poll of 806 Minnesotans was conducted last week and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.