FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2017
Leslie Rosedahl, 651-353-1818
MLBA Statement on Sunday Sales Legislation Passing House Commerce Committee
ST. PAUL, MN – Tony Chesak, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, issued the following statement in response to Sunday sales passing the Minnesota House of Representatives Commerce Committee on Tuesday afternoon:
“We’ll continue to educate the public that authorizing Sunday liquor sales will raise costs for both consumers and small, family-owned businesses. Our organization will continue to fight for the little guy, for the small family-owned business that owns and operates bars and liquor stores throughout Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association represents Minnesota’s mostly small, family-owned liquor retailers, both on-sale (bars and restaurants) and off-sale (liquor stores).
Below is the text of Tony Chesak’s testimony before the Minnesota House Commerce Committee:
Mr. Chair, members of the Committee, my name is Tony Chesak. I am the executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association – the MLBA. My members are the people – Minnesotans – who own liquor stores and bars. These are small family owned businesses and operate in every community in Minnesota. As many of you know, the last time there was a Sunday sales hearing in this committee, five of these small business owners were here to testify and more were in the audience. Today is different. We all understand what the outcome of the vote today is going to be. So, I am not going to spend time commenting on the legislation. Instead, I want to express some thought and concerns that these small business owners have as we go forward.
First, irrespective of your views of this legislation, it is important for you to know that the current system of regulation of alcohol works and works well in Minnesota. In Minnesota, we have unparalleled product availability and consumer choice, we have lower than average alcohol prices, and we have lower rates of social problems related to alcohol abuse. Finally, we have a nationally recognized thriving local craft beer, wine and spirits industry. Our system is smart and balanced. It works well. We would urge you to continue to recognize the benefits that exist, and resist disruptive changes that might upset the current balance that exists.
Next, experience in other states suggests that very soon grocery stores, and other big box retailers, as well as convenience stores who currently sell 3.2% beer, are likely to be at your doors urging you to allow them to sell beer at strengths greater than 3.2%. I want you to know that these stores currently are allowed to sell strong beer, wine, and spirits. 127 groceries stores have already obtained licenses to sell alcohol in connected stores with separate entrances. These are full off-sale licenses. Target has recently retrofitted numerous stores with separate entrances and sells alcohol as well. And, though there are fewer, some gas stations and convenience stores have also obtained liquor license and sell alcohol in the same way. All of this has occurred without changing a law. It is clear that existing law allows grocery stores and gas stations to obtain liquor licenses. The law does not need to be changed.
Finally, we know that today the vote is not going to go our way, but if you remember one thing, I want you to remember that the current system has served us well. And I want all Minnesotan’s who own bars and liquor stores to know that the MLBA will continue to fight for the little guy and gal – the family owned business – where the owner still goes to church in the community where the business is located, still contributes to the school raffle, still is a member of the local service club, and still continues to sell alcohol in a safe responsible manner. Thank you.