Lawmakers returned after recess with a plan to address allegations of inappropriate comments by Rep. Luke Simons toward women in the Capitol.
“Tomorrow we will resolve the House into a committee of the whole to address accusations of workplace harassment,” Majority Leader Chet Pollert said.
Pollert said leadership has already drafted a resolution that could result in the expulsion of Simons, and in Thursday’s meeting, lawmakers will get their say.
“I don’t want to do this, but if there are folks missing, I will have a call of the House, just so everyone knows. We will start at 1. We have the duty as legislators, so however long it takes tomorrow, that’s what we’ll be doing,” Pollert said.
Simons was silent during the floor announcements but said after, he maintains that the allegations — and the procedure Pollert wants to take — are politically motivated.
“It’s gonna happen. If you’re gonna make a difference, this stuff’s going to happen,” Simons said.
Pollert says he supports expulsion, but it’s unclear whether the House will join him.
“In North Dakota’s Constitution, expulsion can be done for misconduct, and we’ll bring that forward tomorrow, so we’ll see if the whole floor agrees with that or not,” Pollert said.
According to the state Constitution, “each house shall determine its rules of procedure, and may punish its members or other persons for contempt or disorderly behavior in its presence.”
It would take a two-thirds vote, or 63 members, to expel Simons.
According to Legislative Council Director John Bjornson, the last time the legislature voted to discipline a member was in 1890. That’s when two Senators were censured for “present[ing] a minority report . . . entirely foreign to the bill under consideration” and “cast[ing] reflections upon the motives of more than two-thirds of the members of the Senate.”
There have been no documented instances of expulsion in the state’s history.