SCOTT SIMON, Host:
Cold beer is on tap in Minnesota this weekend. But it was almost the casualty of the two-week shutdown of the state government that may have come to an end. MillerCoors, which holds brand label registrations for 39 beers, including Miller, Coors, Blue Moon Pale and Hamm's - almost 40 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota - sent in their renewal notice on June 15. But the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Agency said that MillerCoors overpaid their registration fees; they refused to stamp their paperwork. MillerCoors sent another check immediately.
J: former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz.
Would Judge Blatz rule in favor of MillerCoors? Now we might be able to see, in Minnesota's near-beer disappearance experience, some of the complicated thoughts that Americans can have about government at all levels. People get mad at what they consider the foolishness of bureaucracy. MillerCoors had sent two checks. The state government didn't cash either of them, on a technicality that's difficult to figure from outside officialdom. So the company couldn't sell beer, the government got no money, and citizens of Minnesota almost got thirsty.
This kind of narrow bureaucratic decision can drive people to say they don't care if a government shuts down. But then if it does, they get mad that the government isn't there to help them. Late this week, just in time for the Twins to open against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field, Governor Mark Dayton and Republican state house leaders reached a deal to end the shutdown. Democrats agreed not to raise taxes, though the governor had campaigned on a pledge to increase state revenues. Republicans agreed to abandon plans to ban state aid for stem cell research, and cut the state workforce by 15 percent. And critics complain that the compromise just defers problems for a few short years. Nobody is going to be happy with this, said the governor, which is the essence of real compromise.
Twenty-two thousand state workers who were laid off during the shutdown may soon be able to return to work. I think I know how they might celebrate.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) In heaven there is no beer. That's why we drink it here. And when we're gone from here, all our friends will be drinking all our beer.
SIMON: You're listening to NPR News.
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