Yesterday, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger approved the format of a petition to end North Dakota’s Sunday closing laws. The non-profit known as “North Dakota Open on Sundays” may now begin collecting the required 13,452 signatures to put the issue before voters in the November 2018 General Election.
The North Dakota Legislature had the opportunity to repeal the laws – known as “Blue Laws” – this last legislative session, but House Bill 1163 took some interesting turns before being defeated in the Senate by a vote of 22 – 25.
Initially, HB 1163 was defeated in the House – where it originated – by a vote of 44 – 50. But upon reconsideration the following day, it passed by a two-vote margin of 48 – 46.
The bill caught the public’s attention for all the wrong reasons as one House member joked about the need for wives to make their husbands breakfast in bed and another kidding about his wife spending all he has in 6 1/2 days already. On the Senate side, the religious element was paramount as one Senator expounded about agnostics, atheists, Humanism, religious freedom, and Christianity.
As is sometimes the case, the Legislature is out of touch with what North Dakotans want. And this seems to be lining up to become one of those issues. A recent poll in the Grand Forks Herald showed that 75% of responders oppose Sunday Closing Laws.
According to North Dakota Open on Sundays Facebook page, they will begin gathering signatures this coming weekend:
While purely speculation, I’m guessing that if the group wanted to they could get a major jump on signature gathering by simply utilizing the final days of the North Dakota State Fair. Historically speaking, the Fair is a gold mine for those seeking to put issues on the ballot.
The petition’s Sponsoring Committee Chairman Brandon Medenwald – a Fargo businessman – and his supporters have until July 9th next year to gather the necessary signatures for the November Election. Their goal is to exceed the minimum requirement by gathering 20,000. A smart move that gives the group the necessary buffer in the verification process that will occur after the petitions are turned in.
Should I have the opportunity to sign the petition, I will. And when the opportunity is presented to vote for this on the ballot, I’ll do that too. Not because I hate religion (in fact, quite the opposite). Not because I don’t believe people should have time to worship (we should). Not because I don’t believe family time is important (I do). I’ll vote for it because I don’t believe government should dictate when private businesses are open. It’s that simple.
And when the votes are tallied, I believe the overwhelming majority of North Dakotans are going to agree with me.
Say “good-bye” to the Sunday Closing Laws. Because on January 1, 2019 they’ll be a thing of the past.
- Click here to see the petition as approved by the Secretary of State.
2. http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/petition-to-revoke-sunday-closing-laws-approved-for-circulation/article_62c0d396-d1bd-57d3-8302-7fbe3e3fbe62.html 3. https://www.theminutemanblog.com/single-post/2017/07/07/Is-it-the-Beginning-of-the-End-for-NDs-Sunday-Closing-Law