Weather Forecast


Law enforcement group honors Rep. Simonson

State Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, was recognized by a Minnesota law enforcement group on Monday for his work on behalf of public safety issues across the state.

Simonson was named the 2014 Legislator of the Year by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. The group lauded Simonson’s efforts to protect the public and law enforcement, making special mention of a bill Simonson sponsored that attempts to curb the sale of synthetic drugs.

“It was not something I was expecting or even thinking about,” Simonson said of the award. “I was surprised.”

Simonson’s synthetic drugs bill, which passed the Minnesota House unanimously, was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 22. The bill gives the Board of Pharmacy power to identify and block the sale of synthetic drugs, beginning Aug. 1.

When writing legislation like the synthetic drugs bill, Simonson said it was important for law enforcement officials to be involved early in the process, because they ultimately are responsible for enforcing the law.

“It makes a whole lot more sense to bring them in early … so your end product is effective and something supported by law enforcement,” Simonson said.

In the House, Simonson sits on the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, the Tax Committee, the Transportation Committee and the Labor Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee.

Simonson, who was elected in 2012 and  serves central and West Duluth, is also an assistant fire chief for the Duluth Fire Department. A 23-year veteran of the department, Simonson said he has developed relationships with the Duluth Police Department and its officers through his work.

“It gives you a sense of what street-level police officers face on a day-to-day basis,” Simonson said. “You gain a greater respect for what they do.”

Founded in 1922, the association is the largest of its kind in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 police officers, municipal police officers and county deputy sheriffs employed by the state.

“Rep. Simonson has worked side by side with law enforcement while serving in the Legislature and has become a leader on public safety issues at the State Capitol,” said Dennis Flaherty, the association’s executive director.