HB1434, introduced by Rep. Marie Strinden (D-Grand Forks) would have allowed for restaurants to begin serving alcohol one hour earlier on Sundays. It’s called the “brunch” bill, since Sunday morning mimosas are a fad right now.
North Dakota has the latest start-time for alcohol sales on Sundays in the region, starting at noon. Minnesota starts at 10:00am. In Manitoba, to the north, sales start at 9:00am. In South Dakota and Montana sales can start at 8:00am and 7:00am, respectively.
But the bill failed in the state Senate on a 23-22 vote (24 votes were required for passage).
There wasn’t a lot of debate related to the bill itself. I’m surprised the bill failed in the Senate given that the typically much more conservative House passed it 49-42.
If I had my way I’d drop “blue laws” like this entirely and just let people who want alcohol buy it when they want it. I mean, does anyone really think this sort of law is keeping problem drinkers from getting their booze?
On a related note, it was interesting to see Senator Nicole Poolman (R-Bismarck) try to recuse herself from the vote. She and her husband, former Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, have an ownership stake in the Blarney Stone bar/restaurant in Bismarck. Poolman said she was going to recuse herself because she would stand to profit from the passage of the bill, but both Majority Leader Rich Wardner and Minority Leader Mac Schneider rose to say that the recusal was unnecessary as the bill would benefit all restaurant owners across the state, not Poolman specifically.
That’s a fair point. In a part-time Legislature a lot of the lawmakers are going to be voting on bills that benefit them indirectly. Senator Poolman’s caution is to be admired, but she is setting the bar for recusal a bit too low.
I did get a chuckle out of Senator Tim Flakoll (R-Fargo)’s reaction to Poolman’s announcement. He was chuckling at Senator Wardner rose to comment, no doubt because he’s a North Dakota University System employee and has never been shy about campaigning and voting for big budget increases for his bosses in the chamber absent any recusal.