Legislature approves repealing N.D. Sunday closing laws

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The North Dakota Legislature has approved repealing North Dakota’s Sunday closing laws.

The Senate this afternoon voted in favor of House Bill 1097 by a vote of 25-21.

A total of 24 votes were needed for passage.

The House passed the same measure January 17th on a 56-35 vote, meaning the bill now goes to Governor Burgum for his signature.

Once he signs the bill, Sunday closing in North Dakota will officially end on August 1st.

House Bill 1097 repeals sections 12.1-30-01, 12.1-30-02, and 12.1-30-03 of the North Dakota Century Code related to Sunday closing, and reinforces section 12.1-30-04, which prohibits lease, franchise and contract agreements requiring a retail business to be open on Sundays.

The battle to end Sunday closing has been a long one going back decades. Efforts to repeal the laws have been consistently introduced in various legislative sessions, without success, going back to the 1980s.

However, the extent of the laws have been diminished over time — first, with legislation to allow the sale of necessary family items on Sundays (milk, infant formula and such), then legislation allowing stores to open after noon on Sundays.

Supporters of Sunday closing worried about intruding on one day set aside for family and worship, and forcing employees to choose between church and work on Sundays.

Supporters of repealing the so-called “blue laws” said allowing stores to open on Sundays was reflective of the will of the people and modern shopping habits.

During Senate floor discussion today, some senators noted the Sunday closing laws were outdated and inconsistent in what could and could not be sold and what businesses could and could not be open.

Others pointed out how people can shop online before noon on Sundays while they cannot at a brick and mortar store.

Those opposed to repealing Sunday closing laws focused their comments on preserving family time, and family and community values.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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