Our View: Sunday sales still makes sense
Legalizing liquor sales on Sundays in Minnesota isn't exactly lighting up cash registers at bottle shops around Duluth, as a report in Sunday's News Tribune made clear. "It's just kind of a wash," the owner of Woodland Liquors said.
Nonetheless, legalization remains the right move at the right time by the Minnesota Legislature last year.
Actually, doing away with Minnesota's antiquated prohibition on Sunday sales could have come a whole lot sooner. Nearly 40 other states, including all the states on Minnesota's borders, beat the Gopher State in coming to the logical decision to do away with a law that only stifled legitimate business, jeopardized public safety, and exacerbated drinking-related social and societal problems.
Inexplicably, Minnesota held onto its Sunday prohibition for 160 long years, artificially restraining the free marketplace, as Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, argued last spring prior to legislative action. Minnesota was missing out on $10.6 million in annual tax revenues from beer and booze sales on Sundays, according to an estimate by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Whether the estimate was maybe a bit optimistic remains to be seen. In the first months of Sunday sales, "Local spirits sellers are reporting a mixed bag," as the News Tribune's Brooks Johnson reported. Regardless, any revenue realized for Minnesota is revenue that was being lost, especially to neighboring states.
Allowing Sunday sales in Minnesota also means the likely and welcome end to unsafe beer runs across our state's borders, with drivers hoping the few already down their gullets weren't a few too many. In the Twin Ports, most of those runs were across the Bong and Blatnik bridges.
The law change actually may have come just in time for Minnesota liquor retailers, as Kevin Hurd, spokesman for Coborn's Inc., parent to Cash Wise Liquor in Duluth, said in Sunday's story. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve both fall on Sundays this year. And the Super Bowl in February is being held right here in the Gopher State, also on a Sunday.
National prohibition was famously a failure. Alcohol consumption actually increased between 1920 and 1933. So did crime, especially organized crime, stretching our courts and prisons to their breaking points and leading to rampant corruption among elected and other public officials.
Tolerating for so long Minnesota's longtime prohibition on Sunday liquor sales also could be seen as a failure — but one made right last year by the Minnesota Legislature after tireless, year-after-year efforts by former Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth and others paved the way to a logical, beneficial outcome.