Liquor bill sparks spirited discussion


When Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls) introduced an amendment to the omnibus liquor bill on the House floor, members began gearing up for what had the makings of a spirited debate about whether to allow off-sale Sunday liquor sales.

When she withdrew it after about 15 minutes of discussion, there was an audible “Awww.”

That decision was left for another day, another session.

The House then passed HF1326, the omnibus liquor bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) 127-5. It now goes to the Senate, where it lacks a sponsor.

The highlight of the bill is the so-called “Surly bill,” sponsored by Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), which would allow microbreweries in Minnesota to open on-site taprooms where they could hold tasting events and sell their own beer.

“Not only does this bill deal with liquor, it deals with jobs,” Loon said. It would help Minnesota craft brewers to grow their businesses and draw tourism, she added.

Some of the bill’s other provisions would:

  • allow bed and breakfasts that are permitted to serve two glasses of wine to be able to also serve 12 ounces of Minnesota beer;
  • permit municipalities to issue a temporary liquor license to farm wineries for on-sale at a county fair in that municipality;
  • allow private colleges to obtain liquor licenses for special event liquor sales from the municipality where they are located instead of needing legislative approval;
  • clarify the boundary around Minnesota State University, Moorhead, for purposes of limiting sales of alcohol within a more contiguous area around the campus;
  • allow liquor stories to sell clothing with their name on it;
  • allow White Bear Township to issue on- and off-sale liquor licenses within the township;
  • permit the city of Rochester to issue a minimum of 26 off-sale liquor licenses, in congruence with its imminent status as a city of the first class; and
  • provide for an interim study with respect to beer sales at baseball venues.