ND Senate passes bill to end blue laws

BISMARCK, N.D. - All that stands between North Dakotans and being able to shop before noon on Sundays is the Governor's signature.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill repealing the state's so-called blue laws, and the governor has indicated he will sign it.

“If you went to church with your family at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning and then you drove to the grocery store and said I want to buy pancake mix and some syrup and I also want to buy a spatula, I can only buy two of those three things,” Burgum said. “You cannot buy the spatula. We have to be able to say we trust our parents in their decisions on how they will spend their Sunday morning.”

This has been a contentious subject for years in the legislature. The bill passed in the House about two months ago, but was facing a much tougher test in the Senate.

Boutique 23 in Bismarck is open for four hours on Sunday, and is one of the only clothing stores in downtown to allow customers to shop that day. And while a change will allow them to be open earlier, those hours aren't expected to be extended. Manager Danita Silbernagel says they want to give employees time to go to church, and spend with family in the morning.

“We still want that to be part of their Sunday so we'll still stick with the 12 to 4,” Silbernagel said.

Senators spent time debating the topic on Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a do pass recommendation from the Political Subdivisions Committee. Arguments against centered around allowing families time to spend together, and having time to go to church. Those for say it's an outdated law that doesn't allow for fair competition for all businesses.

“I'm going to vote red on this I’m going to give families an opportunity to spend a little more time together on Sunday,” Sen. Shawn Vedaa said.

“We no longer have an English monarchy telling us what to do so we surely do not need their laws to keep doing so,” Sen. Ray Holmberg said.

The bill passed by a narrow 25 to 21 vote in the Senate.

The bill will go into effect on August 1.