There is a movement in North Dakota towns and cities to see the state’s “Blue Laws” repealed.

Dylan Moser of Devils Lake is the precinct captain for the local committee behind the effort to repeal what some label as an “archaic law.”

Moser and a number of others working in favor of this effort will be out in force at the Tuesday, Aug. 1 Arts in the Park concert in Roosevelt Park at 7 p.m., gathering signatures on petitions from area residents in order to get this question on the next ballot in North Dakota.

North Dakota is the only state in the nation that still has Blue Laws. Maine was the last state to abolish theirs, they did so in 1990.

Some history:

Starting in 1889, when North Dakota became a state, all businesses were prohibited from opening all day on Sunday. In fact, originally, this was listed in the state Penal Code under the section, “Crimes Against Religion.”

There were five acts listed as “Sabbath breaking:”

1. Servile labor
2. Public sports
3. Trades, manufactures and mechanical employments
4. Public traffic and
5. Serving process

This law was amended several times by the legislature and the vote of the people.

In 1920, the people initiated and won an exemption for baseball games which could then be conducted “in a quiet and orderly manner” and not within 5,000 feet of a church provided it was played between the hours of two and six p.m.

In 1934, the people initiated a measure allowing movie theaters to be open.

In 1967, some businesses, like restaurants and pharmacies, were allowed to be open after a blizzard created an emergency because by the time people dug out of their homes, they weren’t allowed to get needed medications or food. In Devils Lake there were three drug stores that took turns being open on Sunday for emergencies: Bell Drug, Rexall Drug and Ramsey Drug.

In 1985, grocery stores were allowed to be open.

In 1991, businesses were permitted to open at noon. Many saw this as the beginning of ‘the end of Blue Laws.” But it was a compromise between those that wanted to keep the law and those who wanted to repeal the law entirely.

In Devils Lake there were items you could purchase on Sundays before noon and some you could not. Businesses, like Holiday Gas Station, roped off certain aisles keeping customers from buying the “wrong” items on Sundays.

In 2015, bars were allowed to sell alcohol at 11 a.m. in order for border town bars to compete with bars across the state lines for patrons watching NFL games on Sunday.

Exceptions

There currently are 39 exceptions to the rule. Some are obvious, like hospitals, retirement homes, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. Other exceptions may not be quite so obvious, like cold storage warehouses, ice manufacturing and distribution facilities and services.

Some stores were allowed to be open if they had not more than six employees working at one time, but a governing body - like that of a city or county - could by ordinance increase the number of employees allowed to work at one time in a store on a Sunday.

Bait shops for the sale of live bait and fishing tackle were exception No. 31.

Christmas tree stands, No. 33.

Bingo halls and onsite food concessions were allowed between the hours of 12 (midnight) and one a.m. and within the hours permitted under section 12.1-30-01, or exception No. 39.

Prohibited items

You could not buy (or rent) a list of 44 different items unless you were operating a garage or rummage sale or a tourist attraction.

•Clothing other than work gloves and infant supplies
•Wearing apparel other than that sold to a transient traveler under emergency conditions.
•Kitchenware
•Kitchen untensils
•China
•Home appliances
•Silverware
•Electric fans
•Radios
•Television sets
•Cameras
•Hardware other than emergency plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical repair or replacement parts and equipment
•Tools, other than manually driven hand tools
•Watches
• Clocks
•Musical instruments
•Aural or video recordings, records or tapes, however, rental of these items is permitted
•Lamps
•Mirrors
•Sporting or recreational goods other than those sold or rented on the premises where sports or recreational activities are conducted

According to Moser, support for this measure comes from businesses of all sizes, employees and voters.

It is not a partisan issue, not a Republican or a Democrat issue and not a rural versus urban issue.

He first heard about it back in April on a radio program aired by NPR. “I thought they made several good, solid points,” he said.

So he got educated on the issue and got involved personally.

He says that in order to get the initiative on the ballot, they have to gather 20,000 signatures by July 9, 2018.

Moser is presently working as a paralegal at the Traynor Law firm, but after Aug. 11 he will be a political science and history major at UND. He says he is also a proud, 4th generation, member of the North Dakota National Guard.

If you have questions or concerns, bring them up when visiting with one of these volunteers. You may also contact Moser, too, at dylanmos3r@gmail.com.

There is a movement in North Dakota towns and cities to see the state’s “Blue Laws” repealed.

Dylan Moser of Devils Lake is the precinct captain for the local committee behind the effort to repeal what some label as an “archaic law.”

Moser and a number of others working in favor of this effort will be out in force at the Tuesday, Aug. 1 Arts in the Park concert in Roosevelt Park at 7 p.m., gathering signatures on petitions from area residents in order to get this question on the next ballot in North Dakota.

North Dakota is the only state in the nation that still has Blue Laws. Maine was the last state to abolish theirs, they did so in 1990.

Some history:

Starting in 1889, when North Dakota became a state, all businesses were prohibited from opening all day on Sunday. In fact, originally, this was listed in the state Penal Code under the section, “Crimes Against Religion.”

There were five acts listed as “Sabbath breaking:”

1. Servile labor
2. Public sports
3. Trades, manufactures and mechanical employments
4. Public traffic and
5. Serving process

This law was amended several times by the legislature and the vote of the people.

In 1920, the people initiated and won an exemption for baseball games which could then be conducted “in a quiet and orderly manner” and not within 5,000 feet of a church provided it was played between the hours of two and six p.m.

In 1934, the people initiated a measure allowing movie theaters to be open.

In 1967, some businesses, like restaurants and pharmacies, were allowed to be open after a blizzard created an emergency because by the time people dug out of their homes, they weren’t allowed to get needed medications or food. In Devils Lake there were three drug stores that took turns being open on Sunday for emergencies: Bell Drug, Rexall Drug and Ramsey Drug.

In 1985, grocery stores were allowed to be open.

In 1991, businesses were permitted to open at noon. Many saw this as the beginning of ‘the end of Blue Laws.” But it was a compromise between those that wanted to keep the law and those who wanted to repeal the law entirely.

In Devils Lake there were items you could purchase on Sundays before noon and some you could not. Businesses, like Holiday Gas Station, roped off certain aisles keeping customers from buying the “wrong” items on Sundays.

In 2015, bars were allowed to sell alcohol at 11 a.m. in order for border town bars to compete with bars across the state lines for patrons watching NFL games on Sunday.

Exceptions

There currently are 39 exceptions to the rule. Some are obvious, like hospitals, retirement homes, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. Other exceptions may not be quite so obvious, like cold storage warehouses, ice manufacturing and distribution facilities and services.

Some stores were allowed to be open if they had not more than six employees working at one time, but a governing body - like that of a city or county - could by ordinance increase the number of employees allowed to work at one time in a store on a Sunday.

Bait shops for the sale of live bait and fishing tackle were exception No. 31.

Christmas tree stands, No. 33.

Bingo halls and onsite food concessions were allowed between the hours of 12 (midnight) and one a.m. and within the hours permitted under section 12.1-30-01, or exception No. 39.

Prohibited items

You could not buy (or rent) a list of 44 different items unless you were operating a garage or rummage sale or a tourist attraction.

•Clothing other than work gloves and infant supplies
•Wearing apparel other than that sold to a transient traveler under emergency conditions.
•Kitchenware
•Kitchen untensils
•China
•Home appliances
•Silverware
•Electric fans
•Radios
•Television sets
•Cameras
•Hardware other than emergency plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical repair or replacement parts and equipment
•Tools, other than manually driven hand tools
•Watches
• Clocks
•Musical instruments
•Aural or video recordings, records or tapes, however, rental of these items is permitted
•Lamps
•Mirrors
•Sporting or recreational goods other than those sold or rented on the premises where sports or recreational activities are conducted

According to Moser, support for this measure comes from businesses of all sizes, employees and voters.

It is not a partisan issue, not a Republican or a Democrat issue and not a rural versus urban issue.

He first heard about it back in April on a radio program aired by NPR. “I thought they made several good, solid points,” he said.

So he got educated on the issue and got involved personally.

He says that in order to get the initiative on the ballot, they have to gather 20,000 signatures by July 9, 2018.
 
Moser is presently working as a paralegal at the Traynor Law firm, but after Aug. 11 he will be a political science and history major at UND. He says he is also a proud, 4th generation, member of the North Dakota National Guard.

If you have questions or concerns, bring them up when visiting with one of these volunteers. You may also contact Moser, too, at dylanmos3r@gmail.com.