North Dakota's Senate on Friday passed a bill allowing for earlier Sunday alcohol sales, a day after the body initially poured it down the drain.
Senate Bill 2220, proposed by Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, would move up Sunday alcohol sales by a few hours, to 8 a.m., like the rest of the week. The bill now goes to the House.
Meyer brought the bill to help the service industry, which has grappled with business restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019 Legislature stripped North Dakota's so-called "blue laws" that prohibited most Sunday morning shopping. What laws remain limit Sunday morning alcohol and auto sales. The dispensing of alcohol is banned from 2-11 a.m. Sundays, and off-sale of liquor isn't allowed from 2 a.m. to noon Sundays.
The Senate initially killed the bill in a 26-21 vote on Thursday. But Sen. Randy Burckhard, R-Minot, who voted against the bill Thursday, asked for the Senate to reconsider the legislation on Friday, and then voted in favor of it. He did not elaborate on his reason.
Sen. Doug Larsen, R-Mandan, read John 2:1-10 from the Bible on the Senate floor, about Jesus making water into wine at a wedding.
"The Gospel states this happened after the wine was gone," Larsen said. "Somebody didn't forget to pick up the wine. Evidently the host failed to understand the drinking habits of his friends and guests. My point is that Jesus himself didn't seem to have an issue with alcohol, its availability or its consumption. This bill is about less government restrictions on businesses."
The Senate passed the bill 24-22, the thinnest margin possible.
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