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Simons House trial stumbles out of the gate

North Dakota Legislature
North Dakota Legislature(KFYR)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 3:34 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Right after the gavel to open debate on the fate of Rep. Luke Simons, R-Dickinson, it became clear the lack of precedence would play a factor.

According to a memo given to lawmakers, the speaker nominates a chairman for the procedure. Speaker Kim Koppelman named himself, which goes against a memo provided by legislative council the night before.

Koppelman said he was given their blessing.

The vote allowing him to be chairman passed by one vote. However, one lawmaker was unable to switch his vote from “yay” to “nay,” which would’ve called for someone else to serve.

Shortly thereafter, the House attempted to introduce the resolution.

As Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, spoke, there were murmers in the chamber.

The wrong resolution had been printed.

The resolution given to lawmakers changed the charges to Simons from “expelled” to “censured,” which carries no penalty.

The changes were made by Simons’ desk neighbor Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, and those changes weren’t made aware to leadership until after they’d already begun.

This led to a 20-minute delay where party leaders discussed what the rules are and which version they were moving forward with.

Ultimately, the resolution was introduced 45 minutes after the opening gavel.

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