Bill would change the Sunday Opening law, allowing stores to open before noon

Jan 23, 2017

Fargo businessman Brandon Medenwald testifies on behalf of the Sunday opening bill to the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A House committee is looking at a bill that would do away with the prohibition that retail stores can’t be open before noon Sundays.

Rep. Pamela Anderson (D-Fargo) is the bill’s sponsor. She told the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee that individual stores should be given the choice of when to open on Sundays, or being closed that day. Anderson said stores like Hobby Lobby do not open at all Sundays -- and that's their choice.

"State law should not get involved in that argument," Anderson said. "We either believe in free market -- or not."

Brandon Medenwald is a Fargo business owner – who also supports having stores open before noon Sundays.

"North Dakota doesn't dictate to farmers when to farm, hospitals when to practice medicine, or restaurants when to feed people," Medenwald told the Committee. "I do not believe the state should dictate to other business owners when they can sell their goods and services."

Christopher Dodson of the North Dakota Catholic Conference opposed the bill. He told the Committee it isn’t on religious grounds, but rather on the grounds of necessary rest.

"The purpose of the law is to provide a common period of rest and relaxation for the benefits of families and communities," Dodson said. "Humans and communities need a period of rest to allow them to tend to family, cultural, social and religious life."

North Dakota automobile dealers still want to be closed Sundays. And the North Dakota Hospitality Association said bars should not be open before 11 am Sundays.

The Committee did not take immediate action.