Lawmakers Debate Over Pipeline Protection Bill

Tuesday, February 28th 2017, 6:52 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

A bill sparked by the pipeline protests in North Dakota passes in the state senate, with plenty of shouting between lawmakers. 

The bill's author insists it's designed to protect critical infrastructure, like oil pipelines. Opponents say it's just a mechanism to stop protests.

House Bill 1123 calls for up to $100,000 in fines and 10-years in prison for people who damage critical infrastructure. The bill would also fine organizations up to a million dollars if those organizations help fund those who cause damage. Opponents say the bill dramatically changes trespass laws.

"If this doesn't pass there will no felony for willful trespass. And if it does pass you are creating a new felony for willful trespass. Why can't you just shoot straight with folks?" said House Minority Leader, Scott Inman.

"I've been absolutely honest, no matter how many times you say it in whatever way. You went to law school. You're very good at twisting words and making people believe what you say is fact. That's simply not the fact," argued Rep. Scott Biggs, R – Dist. 51.

The bill passed by a 70-to-24 margin.