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Simons supports prison staying in New England

North Dakota's 2019 legislative session is in full swing, and Rep. Luke Simons, R-District 36, says everything is "going real well." There are many exciting new bills being proposed, Simons said. "There's so many of them I can't even explain them...

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Luke Simons

North Dakota's 2019 legislative session is in full swing, and Rep. Luke Simons, R-District 36, says everything is "going real well."

There are many exciting new bills being proposed, Simons said.

"There's so many of them I can't even explain them all," he said.

Among the efforts being tackled by the Legislature is asset forfeiture, Simons said, and other land rights bills.

"I have a bill coming up on property rights for agriculture," he said, "and the Stockmen's Association is bringing up another one, so you don't have to post to your land, all private land is posted."

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Simons is also working on anti-abortion and pro-gun bills, and bills for oil and agriculture.

"Maybe getting rid of the water commission around Lake Sakakawea, around the shoreline, which would be a huge deal, because they have way too much power," he said.

Simons said he disagrees with Gov. Doug Burgum over distribution of general fund dollars.

"I am leaning more towards the House side of that approach," he said. "The governor, though I get along with him fine, and I like him a lot, and I think he's one of the best governors we've had in a long time, we're seeing differences of opinions."

Simons supports keeping the New England women's prison "right where it's at" rather than relocating the prison to Bismarck, as proposed.

"We do not have the money for that. That's a lie," he said. "(Burgum) didn't lie. He's been lied to. But, when they said it would only cost $30 million to build a new women's prison, that's an absolute lie. The rest will be bonded. They'll be lucky to do that for $160 million."

He added, "There's some major lies going on about the New England prison."

Simons said he is still undecided when it comes to Operation Prairie Dog, the initiative launched by Sen. Rich Wardner, R-District 37, to focus distribution of oil and gas production tax revenue.

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"We do have an issue. We do need money, big time. But I don't like pork," Simons said. "I'm still going through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there's no pork in that bill. Right now, I'm leaning toward yes."

Simons said he is excited for the Legislature to be back in session.

"I'll tell you what, this is some work," he said. "Basically you have to be an attorney to understand this stuff. For a layman to do this it takes a lot of extra work, because you're looking up a lot of big words."

The effort, though, is a worthwhile one, Simons said.

"I'm extremely honored to be a part of our community," he said. "The weight sometimes on my shoulders and the responsibility of what these people are asking me to do, my neighbors- my hair has turned white, and I'm enjoying every minute of it."

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