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As others see it: Poor decision on liquor

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It's not often that we get to praise Rep. Tina Liebling and Rep. Steve Drazkowski in the same paragraph, so we won't miss this opportunity.

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Liebling, a DFLer from Rochester, is about as left-leaning a legislator as you'll find in St. Paul, and Drazkowski, a Republican from Mazeppa, would probably support an expansion of the Capitol building if it allowed him room to move even further to the right. Yet, they were among the most outspoken (and badly outnumbered) supporters of a bill that would have legalized Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota.

When these two agree on something, the Legislature should take notice. But in this case, Drazkowski and Liebling were up against an unstoppable force -- the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which long has opposed all efforts to repeal this "blue law." The association contends that liquor store owners, especially the mom and pop stores, prefer to stay closed on Sundays and don't believe their sales would increase enough to cover the additional costs.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: No one could force a liquor store to open its doors on Sunday, and some owners would probably choose to maintain the status quo. But owners of stores that are near state borders should have the option of trying to claim some of the dollars that flow into Wisconsin or Iowa through Sunday sales.

The overwhelming House defeat of the repeal effort -- by a vote of 106-21-- disappoints but does not surprise us. Drazkowski and Liebling, as well as Rep. Kim Norton, who voted with them, certainly knew that the bill had no chance of passing.

Still, they took a principled stand, and we hope that someday more legislators (including those from southeastern Minnesota) will join the effort to repeal this outdated law.

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