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Senate Taxes kills Sunday growler sales

Minnesotans won’t be purchasing that growler of craft beer on Sunday afternoons any time soon – at least, those who are not willing to drive to Wisconsin or some other libertine state with loose liquor laws.

As the omnibus liquor bill made its final committee stop before going to the Senate floor, the Tax Committee on Monday stripped away a provision much sought by the burgeoning craft beer industry: the authorization to sell growlers-to-go from their brewery taprooms on Sundays.

“The concern from my perspective is the long term impact of Sunday sales on our small municipal liquor stores resulting in property tax impacts,” said Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, the tax committee chair.

The amendment to remove the Sunday growler sales, made by Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, produced no debate and little discussion.

“Of course, I’m not happy with the amendment,” said Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, the author of the growler-to-go measure. Reinert noted “for the record” that the bill did not have any direct bearing on hours of operation for liquor stores.

Earlier in the session, Reinert described the growler-to-go bill as one of several “baby steps” toward full repeal of the state’s longstanding prohibition of Sunday off-sales. Among its 23 provisions, the omnibus liquor bill allows for breweries to open their tap rooms on Sundays.

The omnibus liquor bill wound up before the tax committee because of a measure entirely unrelated to the growler-to-go bill: an excise tax exemption for farm wineries.

According to a Department of Revenue analysis from May 2, that exemption – which applies to the distilled spirits used in fortified wines – will cost the state less than $5,000 per year. Minnesota farm wineries produce only about 100 liters of fortified wine per year.

About Mike Mosedale

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