Businesses that sell alcoholic beverages are petitioning a special master today to address a squeeze on supplies stemming from the state government shutdown.
Businesses can't buy inventory of beverages containing more than 3.2 percent alcohol without getting an annual $20 "buyer's card." The card is issued by the state and costs $20.
Many businesses operators did not anticipate a shutdown would happen, but now that it has, the Department of Public Safety estimates around 300 establishments out of 10,000 in the state did not renew their cards by the end of June. By the end of July, approximately 425 establishments will lack the required permit.
Those businesses can continue to sell alcohol, but cannot replenish their inventory.
"We're having resorts, bars and restaurants that can't purchase product," said Frank Ball, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.
The group wants special master Kathleen Blatz to waive the requirement for a buyer's card if a retailer is licensed and in good standing.
"It would be logical to assume that if they've been doing business all these years and they're in good standing, that they'd get their buyer's card," Ball said. "But they can't get the buyer's card because the government is shut down."
Alternately, the group wants a half-time clerical worker to process Buyer's Card renewals. Otherwise, Ball said the trade group may ask wholesalers to ignore the Buyer's Card requirement.