Soon the North Dakota Senate will take up HB 1097, the bill to repeal the Sunday closing law. This law, commonly known as the blue law, forces some businesses to be closed until noon on Sunday. It also prohibits stores that are allowed to open from selling many arbitrary items.
My objective is not to convince you of what's right for you and your family. My aim is not to discuss morality or who is more righteous. Those are discussions far beyond the laws passed in Bismarck. My goal is to persuade you that it's not the state's place to have an inflexible statute dictating how citizens spend their time/money that trumps the judgment of North Dakotans everywhere.
You see, North Dakota has been trying for 130 years to craft a version of the Sunday closing law that makes sense. The dilemma is that it's impossible. There is no version of this law that can allow for emergencies (see hospitals, power plants), recreation (see bait shops and alcohol sales), and still not restrict the freedom of its citizens from conducting transactions that we can all safely agree are moral and acceptable. One person's leisure is another person's sin. One person's emergency is a convenience to another.
To be clear: repealing this law does not force businesses to open on Sunday mornings. To the contrary, repealing this law allows those that wish to open to do so while permitting those that want to remain closed to do so. Repealing this law also does not force anyone to shop Sunday morning. Everyone can and should decide for themselves.
Last summer I spoke to a first responder's wife in Fargo. Her husband works Sunday mornings, and I think we can all agree that it's critical to have police, firefighters, and paramedics working 24/7. She told me that she would prefer to take her two children and complete their errands Sunday morning so when her husband was done working for the day, they could spend family time together. The Sunday Closing law inhibits her family time, and she is not alone.
People can and should choose for themselves when to rest, worship, work and shop. If you wish to attend church, return home, and spend time with your loved ones all day, that's outstanding. If you elect to buy lumber at 11 a.m. on the way home for a project, that's your decision. If you choose to work to put needed food on the table, I trust you know more about your circumstances than myself or the state government.
Let’s also hold our elected officials accountable for their rhetoric. The North Dakota Republican Party's platform starts with "individual liberty," "personal responsibility" and "limited government." Never have I read three principles that better match the repeal of the Sunday closing law. Individuals should have the liberty to choose when to rest and worship, the responsibility to do what's best for their families, and the freedom from a limited government that doesn't believe it knows better.
I encourage you to visit ndopenonsundays.com to contact your state senator today or text the word “open” to 57543.