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Minnesota Shutdown Roundup: MillerCoors, more bars can’t sell alcohol over expired licenses

Alcohol was at the center of perhaps the biggest shutdown-related news since the Minnesota government closed down 14 days ago.

Here’s what happened Wednesday, along with a few other shutdown-related headlines:

• State officials told the MillerCoors brewing giant it must stop selling its beer in Minnesota because of an expired license.

According to the Star Tribune, the Department of Public Safety told the brewer to devise a plan to pull its products from the shelves. MillerCoors brews Coors, Coors Lite, Miller Lite, Miller High Life and 35 other name-brand beers. The company supplies 38 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota, and the state is one of the top five markets in the country for the brewing giant.

MillerCoors officials said Wednesday they plan to fight the state and continue to distribute their beer, though Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville told the Star Tribune, ”There’s really nothing in the statute that allows us to make an accommodation for anybody.”

According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, a MillerCoors spokesman said the company actually paid its branding fees two weeks before the shutdown, but paid too much and had to write a second check. That apparently delayed the process for renewing the three-year licenses.

Brewers must renew brand label registrations with the state every three years, showing the label on each brand of beer.

The Star Tribune also reported hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across the state are actually running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes.

In the days leading up to the shutdown, thousands of outlets scrambled to renew their state-issued liquor purchasing cards, but many weren’t able to renew in time.

Of the roughly 10,000 establishments that sell liquor in Minnesota, most of those that needed to renew their buyer purchasing cards managed to do so before the July 1 shutdown started. But about 300 were caught with cards that expired on June 30 and no way to renew the permits. That number will grow to 425 by the end of the month, according to state officials, and grow as more cards expire at random intervals.

• Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled Wednesday to restore funding for Minnesota’s child care assistance programs during the state government shutdown, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Child care assistance is funded by a mixture of federal and state dollars. A June 29 ruling by Gearin preserved one funding source, but the Department of Human Services said it was impossible to separate it out from the others.

Gearin’s Wednesday ruling said that all three child care assistance programs should receive funding.

• On Tuesday, Gearin said those affected by the shutdown should be “flooding” Dayton and legislators with impact stories, according to Capitol Chatter.

“I cannot believe the legislators and governor are getting the information I am getting,” Gearin said during a Tuesday hearing about whether state loggers should be able to continue their work during the shutdown.

“I don’t want this case … I won’t want any of them,” Gearin said. “I want the governor and Legislature to do their jobs.”

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