Politics
8:17 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Missouri lawmaker wants to ban retailers from opening on Thanksgiving

State Rep. Jeff Roorda (D, Barnhart)
Credit Mo. House Communications

Many large retailers were open on Thanksgiving Day. Now, one Missouri lawmaker wants to limit that.

State Representative Jeff Roorda (D, Barnhart) plans to file legislation that would make it illegal for most retail stores in Missouri to be open for business on Thanksgiving.  He filed the "Thanksgiving Family Protection Act" during the 2013 regular session, but it went nowhere, not even getting a hearing.  Roorda says he's trying again, nevertheless.

"Some folks have said, 'government ought to stay out of this'...governments (are) the ones that makes these holidays (to be) state holidays and national holidays," Roorda said.  "If we're gonna make them state holidays and national holidays, we ought to do something to preserve them for that purpose."

Last session's bill would have exempted pharmacies and gas stations from having to close on Thanksgiving Day, but not grocery stores.

"There was a problem with (the) grocery store (language), the way it was written, and we're gonna try to fix that when we re-file," Roorda said.  "We want people to be able to get necessities like gas and prescriptions and food, but at the same time we don't want it to turn into just more commercialization of what ought to be family time."

As for major retailers that also sell groceries, such as Wal-Mart, Roorda says the percentage of groceries sold compared to other merchandise would determine whether they would have to close on Thanksgiving Day.

"The commercialization of Christmas has now crept into Thanksgiving Day, when folks would like to be home celebrating with their families," Roorda said.  "I know everyone wants to get a jump on the sales, but the only reason that the sales keep moving up, and up, and up into Thanksgiving is because nobody's done anything to stop it...these retail clerks would like to spend Thanksgiving with their families, too."

Pre-filing of bills for Missouri's 2014 legislative session begins Monday.