Focus on New Laws: Liquor Sales on Sunday

Sunday off-sale of intoxicating liquor will be allowed by state law beginning July 1, 2017.
(Published Mar 13, 2017)

UPDATE, June 13, 2017: Previous to now, cities could be more restrictive than state law in hours of sales, but not in days of sale. When Sunday sales were allowed by state law, they became allowed in every city. However, as part of the 2017 first special session, the Legislature changed the law so that cities can now also be more restrictive than state law on days of sale. The new language was included in article 5 of Chapter 4, the omnibus state government appropriations bill. This means cities have the authority to essentially continue prohibiting Sunday sales by off-sale intoxicating liquor licensees through the city’s ordinance. If Sunday off-sale is not right for your community, consider reviewing your ordinance with your city attorney to make sure your ordinance is properly tailored for your situation.

Sunday off-sale of intoxicating liquor is coming to every liquor store in the state starting Sunday, July 2, so cities should review their ordinances to make sure they conform to this change in state law.

The bill (HF 30/SF 1086) was signed into law as Chapter 6 on March 7.

The two basic reasons to check the city ordinances are to eliminate an explicit ban of intoxicating off-sale liquor on Sunday, and to set hours of Sunday sale, should a city wish to be more restrictive than the law.

The law
Under the new law, off-sale of intoxicating liquor may occur on Sundays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., as of July 1, 2017.

In the case, A/AL, Inc. v. City of Faribault, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held cities may not prohibit sales of liquor on a day when state law allows it. In other words, cities may not be more restrictive than state law on days of sale. At the same time, the court acknowledged, cities can be more restrictive than state law in the hours of sale, according to Minnesota Statutes, section 340A.504, subdivision 6.

What cities should do
If a current city ordinance explicitly bans Sunday off-sale of intoxicating liquor, that ban will become invalid on July 1 and so should be repealed prior to that time. If a city’s ordinance simply references Minnesota Statutes, section 340A.504 for hours and days of operation, then cities need not change their ordinance to address the addition of Sundays.

A good example of this latter case is on page 9 of the League’s Model Liquor Licensing Ordinance.

If a city intends to allow Sunday off-sale of intoxicating liquor between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., the city need not set particular hours in ordinance. Alternatively, if a city wishes to be more restrictive on hours of Sunday sales than the state law is, the desired hours should be set in ordinance.

Please note, while a city has authority to be more restrictive in the hours of sale, just how much more restrictive would be a question for the city’s legal advisor.

Finally, the law does include two provisions that disallow alcohol deliveries to off-sale licensees and order solicitation/merchandising by wholesalers, both on Sundays. Cities should be aware of these prohibitions and consider adding them to the city’s ordinance, because the city is more likely than the state to detect their noncompliance.

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