Omnibus liquor bill passes House without Sunday sales


As the House works to wind down its work for the session, it’s still clear that anything can happen — example: a bill dealing with gambling became one that also contains the House’s liquor provisions.

In a somewhat surprise move on Thursday, the House voted 120-10 to pass a gambling bill with added liquor provisions. It its original form, SF2336, sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights), would make it illegal to knowingly tamper with E-gambling machines. While the original content of the bill remained intact, Atkins successfully amended it to include the entirety of the House’s omnibus liquor bill, HF2720, minus a provision to allow Sunday growler sales. The gambling bill now heads back to the Senate where it was previously passed without the added liquor provisions.

Atkins said on the House floor that you can blame the Senate for the unusual procedural move to tack on the liquor provisions.

“This is not my preferred approach to this bill,” Atkins said. “But these are all of the provisions proven to be noncontroversial. If we add Sunday growler sales, the Senate won’t take it up.”

Earlier this week, the Senate’s omnibus liquor bill, SF2346, sponsored by Sen. James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul), was tabled by the sponsor on the Senate floor after a successful amendment to allow growler sales on Sunday.

The liquor amendment did not sit well with many House members because of the way it was being added to a gambling bill. On top of that, Atkins proposed it as an amendment to the main amendment he proposed. According to House Rules, members can make amendments to proposed amendments, but they cannot make changes to amendments to amendments. This course prevented House members from having a discussion or proposing further changes to the liquor provisions.

“Do you think this is an appropriate way to do things for legislatures going forward?” asked Rep. Pat Garofalo (R- Farmington). “If you were in the minority party, is this how you would want to be treated?”

The omnibus liquor bill would:

  • allow microdistilleries to serve cocktails featuring their liquor. This would mirror the existing taproom license law that allows local municipalities to choose whether or not to issue the license. The distiller would only be allowed one cocktail room license;
  • allow brewers to refill growlers for off-sale;
  • increase the amount of wine that farm wineries can sell from 50,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons per year;
  • allow farm wineries to store product in an off-site location if that location is owned and managed by the farm winery and the location of the storage facility is disclosed;
  • allow “bona fide” religious book or supply stores to sell wine for sacramental purposes. The wine could only be sold for sacramental purposes to a rabbi, priest, or minister of a church, or other established religious organization and used exclusively for religious ceremonies. An annual fee of $50 would apply;
  • allow Hennepin County bars to stay open until 4 a.m. during the 2014 MLB All-Star game on July 15 and 16. Special permits would be issued at the discretion of the county, and only establishments with existing liquor licenses would be eligible; and
  • allow the University of Minnesota to continue to sell alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium.