Senate defeats Sunday morning retail sales

Mar 14, 2017

A bill that would have allowed retailers to be open on Sunday mornings has failed in the North Dakota Senate.

Current law makes it a Class B misdemeanor to operate a business before noon on Sundays. There are exceptions for businesses like restaurants, hospitals, hotels and gas stations. Opponents of the repeal of most of that law say workers need Sunday mornings to spend with their families - perhaps at church. One such opponent is Senator Robert Erbele. He calls the need for Sunday morning retail sales "selfish consumerism," and says everyone needs a moment to rest.

"Going to church is recreation, just like going to the lake or golfing. It's really a matter of how you pronounce the word. If you say recreation, or you say re-creation, it really amounts to the same thing. So we need that day to rejuvinate our mind, our spirit, and our body - that's the re-creation."

Senator Jessica Unruh says there are currently 39 exceptions to the Sunday sales prohibition. She says that list should either be expanded, or done away with to level the playing field for all businesses. Senator Judy Lee says the decision to open on Sunday mornings should be left to the businesses themselves.

"A store that is free standing is always going to have the ability to decide when to be open. The Franklin Covey stores have never been open on Sunday. Hobby Lobby has never been open on Sunday. And if I ran a store, I would have to decide if I was going to be open on Sunday - either at noon, or if this bill passes, at ten. So I think it's really important to recognize there are a lot of working people who do not work retail, who are working, at some point, shifts that are all a part of the 24 hour work schedule - and we all take them for granted in many ways."

The bill failed on a vote of 22 to 25.