You wouldn’t know it from reading the mainstream press, but the debate in the North Dakota House over whether to let certain businesses open on Sundays was insane.
North Dakota law doesn’t let retail stores open on Sunday mornings, apparently because it’s a holy time for Christian people.
When a bill to end this restriction came to a vote on the House floor yesterday, it made legislators’ heads explode, because they were forced to choose between God and capitalism.
Rep. Chris Olson (R-West Fargo) urged his colleagues not to use logic when making their decision:
“The logical arguments for eliminating the blue laws, as they’re called, are massive. There’s lots of good logical arguments for getting rid of them. But I think this is one of those areas where we have to be cautious because traditions which have been with us for thousands of years are usually solutions which were found for problems that we can no longer remember.
“And so when you eliminate the tradition, the problem returns. Maybe we don’t remember why we came up with common days of time to rest and relax. And some people may think that this is a distinctly religious issue. I don’t think its necessarily that, I think its part of just the pattern of human life.”
Translation: I can’t explain how our current policy is good, but because it exists, I know it must have been put in place for a good reason, and despite all available logic, we should keep it.
Rep. Bernie Satrom (R-Jamestown) cited Stephen King’s The Shining to argue that Sunday mornings should not be a time for work. “‘All work and no play makes for Jack a dull boy.’ I don’t think you’re going to go crazy, but do you ever take time to have fun?”
Some legislators used the opportunity to try out their stand-up material. “If taking a break doesn’t improve your mood, check with your doctor: constant irritability can be a sign of depression — or maybe a lack of chocolate,” Satrom continued.
Rep. Vernon Laning (R-Bismarck) joked that letting businesses open on Sundays would hurt him financially. “My wife has no problem spending everything I earn in six and a half days,” he said.
Another lawmaker said he would vote ‘no’ “in honor of my father-in-law.”
Is there anyone in Bismarck who votes based on … facts?
After debate, the bill failed 44-50. But the bill was taken up again today and passed 48-46.