Change the city ordinance to allow Rochester liquor stores to stay open later.

This petition made change with 598 supporters!

Rochester is one of just a handful of cities across Minnesota that require liquor stores to close down earlier than the state law mandates.

Context: State law allows liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m Monday through Saturday. However, Rochester's ordinance requires stores to close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 p.m. on Friday; and 10 p.m. on Saturday.

The question of whether to repeal this archaic ordinance came up at a city council meeting earlier this month. As expected, several liquor store owners spoke out against lifting the restrictions, arguing extended hours would create additional safety concerns for employees and customers.

But there's really no evidence to back that claim up. The liquor stores are just concerned that opening later would hurt their bottom lines.

Now, it is worth noting that repealing the ordinance would not require stores to stay open later; it would just give them choice to do so (one liquor store chain argued its leases would require them to stay open later, but that's a private business matter that shouldn't factor into public policy).

The council bowed down to the demands of the liquor store owners and passed a new ordinance extending off-sale hours for only microbreweries, which supported the change. But just days after the ordinance passed, the city clerk issued a memo saying the vote was invalid because Minnesota law requires growler sale hours to "match the off-sale hours of regular liquor stores."

That means when the council meets on Monday, Sept. 21, it will have to make a firm decision on whether or not to extend off-sale liquor hours citywide. 

Two council members have already signaled their support for repealing the city's current ordinance and falling into line with state law. However, at this point, it doesn't appear the council will have the necessary four votes to make a change.

That's why it's time for consumers to speak up. In the past few weeks, there have been hundreds of comments posted to social media about this issue — nearly all in favor of change. But those interests likely won't be represented when the council discusses the topic at its next meeting.

That's why we've created this petition. We understand this is a divisive issue for local businesses. But to be fair, our council is responsible for representing the interests of voters, not commercial entities. 

So, if we get at least 500 signatures, we will present this petition to the city council at Monday's meeting. While we generally try not to take sides on issues, there are times when the public has spoken and our government needs to listen.

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