ND Legislature Hall Of Shame Week 5: Rep. Kim Koppelman


It was hard to pick this week’s Hall of Shame winner, because I was inclined to award it to every single Republican who voted against HB1437, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, which would have ended the state’s ban on some business opening Sunday mornings and allowed political subdivisions to set their own policies in that regard.

It was a permissive law allowing local control, and opening the door to a freer sort of commerce in the state, but the Republican-controlled house voted it down. Here’s the video of the floor debate, which was fascinating to watch:

Rep. Bette Grande might have deserved this honor after arguing against the law on the basis of protecting Sunday morning family time despite owning and operating a truck stop in western North Dakota that I’m pretty sure is open Sunday mornings.

Rep. Wayne Trottier might have earned it to for saying something rather bizarre about Paul Harvey and Sunday openings shutting down churches and allowing the devil to invade the state. But I had to give the Hall of Shame award to Rep. Kim Koppelman, who managed to argue that the state ought not drop the ban on some Sunday openings because businesses and citizens need to be protected from the free market.

According to Rep. Koppleman, if current law was overturned and Sunday openings were allowed, businesses might feel pressured to open on Sundays due to consumer demand and competition from other businesses.

Which is a bit like arguing that people ought to be protected from their own decisions. Because that’s really what free markets are, right? People making and responding to choices. Business would feel pressure to open on Sundays because many people want to shop on Sunday mornings. Maybe some find that immoral, but what business is it of the legislature’s to be imposing religious beliefs on the populace at large?

Koppelman went on to explain that the legislature already regulates and restricts commerce in all sorts of other ways, so why not this way too? With Republicans making arguments like that, why do we need Democrats?

Our friends on the left are the ones who believe in equality of outcome and central control of decision making. Republicans are supposed to believe in free markets, and individual freedom. Koppelmann and the other Republicans who voted for this bill (see the full list here) violated those principles.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • ec99

    As I said before, Welcome to the 19th century.

    • devilschild

      A period of revolutions. Does history truly repeat itself?

  • Maggie

    Honestly, I think it’s great the bill was defeated . There’s nothing wrong with keeping a little bit of tradition now and then. And people could definitely use more family time/church time in their life. I think family time is extremely important especially now considering all the nut jobs out there shooting up schools with kindergartens. And really….how badly do people need to shop that early?. I think everybody will survive just fine.

    • ec99

      The problem is that the state is enforcing a religious doctrine. It’s not whether people had to “badly” shop, it’s that the state should not impede those who wish to.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      There’s nothing wrong with keeping a little bit of tradition now and then.

      I agree, generally, but shouldn’t traditions be set by society and not the government? If North Dakotans, in general, were so in favor of not shopping on Sunday then why do so many of them shop on Sundays?

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    What about “Freedom of association?”

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Well, yeah, that too.

  • Maggie

    Yeah it’s a valid point. Government shouldn’t be infringing on the right to shop or right to be open. I guess when it comes to picking battles, this one is a non contender for me. I never hear people complain about it. Shouldnt say never.. I worked at a hotel for 2 years in Fargo and the only people that ever griped about it were Canadians but that was fair because they come to town to shop. What makes me more angry is the smoking ban on public places that obviously hurts businesses a heck of a lot more. But we voted for it so I guess the majority aren’t bothered by it.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I agree that it’s not the most important issue before the legislature, but principles are important. To see a Republican majority vote against something that’s pretty clearly against the principles of free enterprise is noteworthy.

  • sbark

    It should be a local city issue, maybe even a private property issue, but thats a pipe dream.
    Appears govt no matter what the level wants to spend money, and to retain and increase its power and influence. Why does getting elected make people think that the voters IQ drops by 75%?

  • Vugg

    close everything on Sunday (including Bette’s truck stop) then or let the businesses decide. when the govt lets me decide which taxes i want to pay, then they can tell me when to open and close. i guess this must be semi-free enterprise or free enterprise lite.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      It’s frustrating when Republicans are for free enterprise, except when they’re not.

  • The Fighting Czech

    If business really wanted to be open Sunday mornings, this would have passed. No one is really bothered by the way things are… if they were, you’d see change. Im guessing you would be hard pressed to find someone really PO’ed about not being able to shop on Sunday morning…
    Now make businesses close on Presidents day, let say for example… the Canadians would declare that an economical threat to Canada, and an invading Canook army would be swarming across the border at daybreak!!!

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      It’s the principle of the thing.

      Aren’t Republicans supposed to be for free markets and individual liberty?

  • cylde

    Are abortion clinics open on Sunday so working girls do not have to miss a day on their career path to personal fulfillment?

  • wj

    First, let’s drop the local government claim. Rob, you’d be the first to criticize a local government for not opting out. If you didn’t, you would not be consistent.

    Second, let’s drop the imposition of religion claim. Very few opponents of the bill made that argument and even the courts that have reviewed these laws have determined that they are not based on religious doctrine.

    Third, since when is the Republican Party for free markets and individual liberty at the expense of other important interests? A strict libertarian might think that those two principles trump all others, but the Republican Party has never really been a libertarian party.

    A traditional conservative would hold that those goods are important, but not absolute. In addition, they would argue that freedom cannot truly thrive without some limitations.

    Nevertheless, the Republican Party has never truly and consistently been a traditional conservative party either.

    • ec99

      Courts have declared a number of inane things. Blues laws were imposed on Sundays especially for religious reasons. In a pluarlistic society they have no place.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Third, since when is the Republican Party for free markets and individual liberty at the expense of other important interests?

      The Republican party is supposed to be against the government deciding what is in the best interest for the individual.

      If you don’t like shopping on Sundays, then don’t shop. But at least let the rest of us make our own choice.

      You should google the term “the absolute shall,” and try to learn a thing or two from it.

  • jimmypop

    wow….at least the guy at 14:00 didnt lie. hes doing it to screw the people he lives with.

  • WOOF

    Sunday closing is part of the price for dominion over the states fertile vaginas.