Sen. Tom Fischer dies at 65BISMARCK (AP) — The late Sen. Tom Fischer’s expertise on water issues will be greatly missed, with flood prevention now one of North Dakota’s biggest problems, his former colleagues said Thursday as they reflected on the Fargo lawmaker’s unexpected death.
BISMARCK (AP) — The late Sen. Tom Fischer’s expertise on water issues will be greatly missed, with flood prevention now one of North Dakota’s biggest problems, his former colleagues said Thursday as they reflected on the Fargo lawmaker’s unexpected death.
“When it came to water, Tom was the guy you went to,” said Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, the state Senate’s Republican majority leader.
Fischer, 65, died Wednesday night of what friends said was a heart attack. His funeral is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nativity Church, a Roman Catholic church in Fargo.
Fischer, a Republican who was first elected to the state Senate in 1996, was a leader in several North Dakota water management organizations and an expert on a proposed Red River diversion project that is intended to protect Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., from the river’s spring
As chairman of a legislative study committee on water issues, Fischer was in charge of exploring the impact of spring and summer flooding that damaged Minot, Burlington, Bismarck and other communities, and the state’s progress at slowing the growth of Devils Lake, which has swamped thousands of acres of farmland in northeastern North Dakota.
“He was a dedicated state leader on water issues and worked to find solutions to the Fargo region’s annual flood fight,” U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement. Hoeven had worked with Fischer during Hoeven’s decade as governor.
Fischer served as chairman of the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over water issues, before moving to the Senate Appropriations Committee during 2005. The committee helps draft the state’s two-year budget.
He represented District 46, a solidly Republican area in south Fargo. Fischer was preparing to run for re-election next year, and hosted a gathering for supporters at his home two weeks ago.
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, described Fischer as “one of a kind, sort of like a big teddy bear. He was just a giving person. He was always amiable and looking to solve problems.”
Kasper and Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, represent District 46 in the House.
“We’re going to miss him in our district, and his friendship is going to be harder to replace,” Kasper said.
Sen. Ryan Taylor, D-Towner, the Senate’s minority leader, said Fischer cultivated good working relationships with Democrats in the Legislature. Republicans hold two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and House.
“Tom was a hard-working senator and a good-natured man,” Taylor said.
Fischer is the second sitting North Dakota state senator to die in office this year.
The Senate’s Republican majority leader, Bob Stenehjem, of Bismarck, was killed in a July traffic accident in Alaska.
Stenehjem’s successor as majority leader, Wardner, said Fischer was “very easy to work with.”
“He was a no-nonsense type of legislator,” Wardner said. “A lot of common sense, but no nonsense.”