A House committee sent the omnibus liquor bill to the House floor March 21.
The bill, HF2784, received approval from the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), the measure includes nine bills previously laid over by the committee, including those relating to farm winery licenses, wine tastings, liquor store clothing sales and out-of-state craft brewers.
Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley) sponsors the companion, SF2392, which awaits action by the full Senate.
Atkins successfully offered an amendment that would allow alcohol to be served at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium during intercollegiate football games. Sale would take place in the suites and at the west end of the stadium near the end zone. Atkins explained the amendment was created as part of a compromise between stakeholders.
Several members expressed skepticism, including Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul). He supports the concept as an attempt to eliminate fans bringing in their own alcohol. However, he worried that if the amendment were to become law, thousands of fans could attempt to purchase alcohol out of a single location at the stadium.
Lillie also proposed, and later withdrew, an amendment allowing sale of alcohol at other university locations, such as Mariucci Arena. He indicated that this is an issue he may address when the bill reaches the House floor.
During a March 20 meeting, the committee laid over four bills for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill. The bill that generated the most debate, HF1035, sought to lift the state ban on issuing more than one liquor license to a business within a single community. Sponsored by Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), the bill would allow liquor or grocery stores to sell alcohol at multiple locations within a city. Senate Majority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester) sponsors SF1273, the companion that awaits action in the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.
Proponents claim the bill would foster opportunity for entrepreneurs without creating a mandate for local government. Owners of small liquor stores assert that the bill would intensify the difficulty of competing with national companies.
Because of the controversy surrounding this bill, it was laid over and not included in the omnibus bill.
The other three bills incorporated into the respective body’s omnibus bills are:
• HF2871/ SF2408, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls), which seeks to authorize the relocation of Kick’s Liquor Store in north Minneapolis that was damaged beyond repair during last summer’s tornado;
• HF2812/ SF2410, sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), which would authorize liquor stores to hold classes, for a fee, that include beer and wine tastings; and
• HF2719/ SF2374, sponsored by Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), which would provide that out-of-state brewers could receive an exemption from standard Minnesota alcohol license requirements. The bill only authorizes the exemption for brewers who sell alcohol in very limited capacities in Minnesota, such as at beer festivals.
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