North Dakota State GOP Senate Leader Dies in Accident

Associated Press BISMARCK, N.D.—State Sen. Bob Stenehjem, who was North Dakota’s Senate Republican majority leader for a decade, was killed Monday in a one-vehicle accident in Alaska, family members said. Mr. Stenehjem, 59, had been on a halibut fishing vacation near the Alaska community of Homer on the state’s south coast. He had been visiting his older brother, John, and his son, Rob, both of whom live in Alaska, said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is Bob Stenehjem’s brother. Wayne Stenehjem said the accident occurred just before 3 p.m. Bismarck time north of Homer, which is more than 200 miles south of Anchorage. Rob Stenehjem was being treated for a broken arm, while his son, Daniel, who is Bob Stenehjem’s grandson, was not hurt, Wayne Stenehjem said. Another man was in the car, but Wayne Stenehjem did not know his identity or condition. Alaska state troopers confirmed there was a fatal, one-car rollover accident Monday, but did not disclose the victim’s name. Spokeswoman Megan Peters said the accident occurred on the Sterling highway, about five miles south of Soldotna. Bob Stenehjem was first elected to the North Dakota Senate in 1992. He represented District 30, which includes parts of south Bismarck and rural Burleigh County. He was up for re-election in 2012 and had said he intended to seek another term. He was elected the Republican majority leader in 2001, after his predecessor, Casselton Sen. Gary Nelson, resigned to accept a federal appointment as state director of the federal Farm Service Agency. Mr. Stenehjem worked as the city of Bismarck’s road and streets foreman, and his legislative interests reflected his background. He was chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and intimately involved in legislative debates about how the state should pay for road construction and upkeep. He sponsored legislation that set out a proposed tax and regulatory framework for oil drilling on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where oil exploration in a booming area had been tepid. The bill led to an agreement between the tribe and state that touched off a rapid expansion of oil production. Wayne Stenehjem said funeral arrangements for his brother were pending. Bob Stenehjem is survived by his wife, Kathy, and four children.

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