Earlier this legislative session the state Senate passed a bill, SB2208, which takes aim at stores opening on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Dave Oehlke (R-Devils Lake) would have prohibited any lease from requiring that a business be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas (there is already a prohibition on a requirement for Sunday openings).
Those sort of requirements are common in shopping centers and other retail developments. But given some of the public backlash against “Black Friday” and holiday shopping in general (led by labor union activists who want to organize retail workers), this law was clearly intended to hamstring the ability of some stores to open.
The Senate passed the bill on a 27-19 vote, but the House killed it today on a 22-66 vote with nobody rising to speak in favor of the bill.
Bill carrier Rep. Bill Amerman (D-Forman) said it was his committee’s thought that the Legislature ought not be in the business of getting between private contracts negotiated between private entities. I agree, and I’d add that the singling out of these two holidays is problematic. Thanksgiving is a largely secular holiday, but Christmas certainly isn’t, and do we really want to give even more preference to Christian holidays in the state code?
Isn’t just a bit objectionable to force stores owned by, say, Jews or Buddhists to close for a Christian holiday?
Besides, if the public didn’t generally want these extended holiday shopping hours (as much as I’m not that keen on them myself), the stores wouldn’t be offering them.