Passing the bottle

Minnesota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2005  | May 2005 issue

Minnesota's liquor laws are again under fire, and this time the pressure is economic.

The first challenge came in the form of a report by the state auditor's office that showed financial problems for cities running municipally owned liquor stores. The law allows cities with a population under 10,000 to run their own liquor stores. There are 257 city-run liquor stores statewide.

The report found that in 2003, while all the stores together made a profit, 38 of them operated at a loss. Proponents of the stores pointed out that while some cities do depend on the liquor stores for revenue, the system was established to control liquor sales, which would be reflected in lower sales.

However, a different challenge is mounting in the Legislature. The Minnesota Grocers Association has been trying to get sales of wine approved for grocery stores, where they are currently prohibited. A bill has been introduced to allow wine sales.

The effort is bolstered by a study the association sponsored that examined liquor sales in Minnesota. It found that Minnesotans paid $444 million more for liquor than they would under Wisconsin's laws, due to tougher restrictions on market entry.

Joe Mahon