Opinions vary among Brainerd legislators on Sunday sales
Legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives voted down an amendment Thursday that would permit communities to decide whether to allow Sunday liquor sales, but the Brainerd-area delegation to the House was split on the issue.
Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, was one of the 70 members of the House who voted against the amendment. He had run part of his campaign for office on opposing Sunday sales, he said, and he didn't want to go back on what he had said before. Initially, he had talked to liquor store owners who saw Sunday sales as an obstacle because they figured on not making enough sales to justify the expense of staffing employees on Sundays.
However, he has also heard concerns of lost sales tax revenue from people going to other states to buy liquor on Sunday.
"I'll be honest with you, it was a hard vote for me," Heintzeman said Thursday.
Heintzeman said he'd be open to changing his stance for future Sunday sales votes.
"I might consider it on a bill like what we voted on today," he said. He noted that the amendment offered by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, left it up to municipalities to decide for themselves whether to allow Sunday sales.
Among a total of 56 members, Rep. Dale Lueck, R- Aitkin, voted in favor of the amendment Thursday.
He said he supported Sunday sales because many of the businesses that sold liquor in his district were rural, sold other things besides liquor like milk and bread and would be open anyway on Sunday. He had shifted his stance from opposition to support as he talked with more rural stores, he said.
"They've got to heat the place, they've still got somebody on duty in their store, they're already selling stuff," he said.
He also emphasized Loon's idea was to have local cities and counties decide whether or not to allow Sunday sales.
Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, voted for the amendment, but did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore was excused from the House and did not vote. Anderson runs Gull Dam Brewing in Nisswa with his wife.