Judge Says No to Bars Looking for Buyer’s Cards

Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin reportedly denied the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association's request to have the state continue processing liquor purchasing cards.

Liquor retailers throughout Minnesota whose “buyer's cards” have expired are unable to buy more alcohol during the state shutdown-and a judge's recent decision did not cut them any slack.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), which represents thousands of liquor retailers in the state, had sought to allow retailers to continue to buy alcohol during the shutdown. MLBA Executive Director Frank Ball told Twin Cities Business last week that his organization had petitioned the state to put a clerical staff in place to validate retailers' buyer's cards.

But Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin denied the request on Monday, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

Retailers apply and receive liquor licenses from their local municipality. But once retailers are approved for the licenses, they're required to buy a $20 buyer's card to allow them to purchase alcohol from a licensed wholesaler-the only source from which they can legally buy alcohol.

About 300 liquor retailers-which include bars, restaurants, and liquor stores-have had their buyer's cards expire, the Minneapolis newspaper reported. That number is expected to climb to about 425 by the end of the month.

“The effects of the shutdown will be harmful, if not crippling, to many businesses, but the solution to this problem does not rest with the judicial branch but rather those branches charged with enacting the state's budget,” Special Master Kathleen Blatz wrote in her recommendation that the court deny the request, according to the Star Tribune.

Gearin reportedly said, however, that the MLBA's petition raises “complex interpretations of the Minnesota Constitution”-which the court will consider if the shutdown is not resolved this week.