House Reconsiders, Passes Legislation Repealing Blue Laws

State Rep. Keith Kempenich explains why he requested a that a bill repealing blue laws which was previously defeated be reconsidered.

Yesterday the state House of Representatives defeated HB1163 on a 44-50 vote after a lengthy debate with a lot of religious justifications for keeping some businesses closed Sunday mornings.

Today state Rep. Keith Kempenich, who was a “no” vote yesterday, moved to reconsider the bill. The vote on his motion passed 54-48, and this time the bill passed 48-46.

Here’s a screen grab of the vote scoreboard from yesterday’s vote (top) and today’s vote (bottom).

Four lawmakers changed from no to yes: Kempenich, Rep. Bill Oliver (R-New Town), Rep. David Longmuir (R-Stanley), Rep. Andrew Marschall (R-Fargo), and Rep. Denton Zubke (R-Watford City)

One lawmaker, Rep. Mark Owens (R-Grand Forks) went the other way from yes to no.

During the floor vote Rep. Sebastian Ertlet, who was outspoken in opposition to the bill during yesterday’s debate, asked Kempenich why he moved to reconsider the vote.

“I’ve been thinking about this,” Kempenich responded. “It’s about what’s in your heart not what a body of men decide.”

“We should let individuals decide,” he continued adding that after sleeping on the issue he decided “it’s time to let this go.”

Rep. David Monson stood and urged another defeat for the bill. “The pie is only so big,” he said referring to potential Sunday morning sales. “The’re only going to get so much money from shoppers, if they can’t get it in six and a half day so be it.”

But Rep. Mike Nathe chided his fellow Republicans who pride themselves on promoted limited government. “WE talk about keeping the government out of our business unless it’s Sunday,” he said. “Then we have the government come in.”

After the vote, while I was broadcasting my radio show, I got numerous texts from lawmakers and other observers on the House floor saying my post yesterday had turned some heads on this issue. I’m not sure how true that is, but to the extent it is, I’m glad.

This was the right move. I suspect this bill will have an easier time of it in the state Senate.

Here’s the video from today’s debate:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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