Minnesota Shutdown Claims Booze and (Maybe) Cigarettes

| Thu Jul. 14, 2011 5:23 AM EDT

First they came for Minnesota's state parks, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a tree-hugger. Then they came for the DMVs and interstate highways, and I didn't speak up because I didn't own a car. And then they came for my beer and cigarettes....

Or so the poem might read if the great Minnesota government shutdown doesn't abate.

In a development that is sure to harsh the mellow of every barfly and club-hopper in Minnesota, the state's government shutdown will soon prevent restaurants, taverns, and distributors from renewing the liquor purchasing cards that allow them to replenish their inventories. The Star Tribune reports:

Of the roughly 10,000 establishments that sell liquor in Minnesota, most of those who needed to renew their buyer purchasing cards managed to do so before the July 1 shutdown started. 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.

MillerCoors will soon have to yank nearly 40 brands of beer from bar and store coolers statewide because it can't get its brand label registration renewed, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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The shuttered government is also barred from issuing tax stamps that retailers are required to affix to every pack of smokes sold, so cigarettes may be next on the chopping block, according to NPR:

One cigarette distributor says he bought some $2 million in tax stamps to prepare for the shutdown. Those in the industry say that the state will run short of cigarettes in September.

These are just the latest economic casualties of the two-week-old impasse between Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature. The standoff has had a similar impact on scores of other businesses, from beauty salons to sport fishing. Where is the GOP's oft-professed love for small businesses when people actually need it?