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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MN Shutdown: Early Signs of Prohibition II

"We have a permit to sell alcohol,
we just don't have a permit to buy alcohol,"

July 13, 2011
By: Rena Sarigianopoulos

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Minnesota could be the latest victims of the state government shutdown. Pretty soon many of them will be unable to purchase the very product they sell to customers.

"We have a permit to sell alcohol, we just don't have a permit to buy alcohol," said Eirk Forsberg, Owner of The Ugly Mug in Minneapolis.

Forsberg is one of hundreds of bar owners that is caught in the middle of a clerical dilemma. He has a valid liquor license through the city of Minneapolis, but his "buyer's card" is up for renewal.

In Minnesota, those wishing to sell alcohol must get their liquor license through their local municipality. Once approved, they pay a $20 fee to the state to obtain a buyer's card. That card allows them to purchase alcohol from a wholesaler, they only place they can legally purchase alcohol in Minnesota. There's one problem, there is nobody at the Department of Public Safety to process those cards.

"They have my money, they offered me a receipt, that should be good enough," said Forsberg.

It's not. If any wholesaler tries to sell alcohol to a retailer with an expired buyer's card, both could be fined. The issue could potentially lead to layoffs and possibly some businesses shutting their doors.

"This doesn't just affect retailers , but wholesalers, and the manufacturers, and wedding parties, and church functions, and one day liquor licenses for charity events, and festivals and the list goes on and on and on," said Frank Ball with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.

Ball petitioned the special master for a solution to the issue Tuesday. No word on when a decision from the court will come down. Until then, those up for renewal can sell what they have on hand, but will not be able to purchase more alcohol until the state settles its budget problems.
"This is in the shadows of a recession, our social clubs are closing at a rate of 20% a year, it's in the shadows of the smoking ban, with all the mandates that have come our way, this is just another hit for us," said Ball.

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