Former North Dakota State Senator dies at 72

(Bismarck, ND) -- The state senator who helped shape North Dakota's streamlined sales tax policy has passed away.

Former North Dakota State Senator Dwight Cook died Sunday at a Bismarck hospital.  Cook served in the state Senate from 1997 until 2020 for District 34, which covers Mandan. He chaired the Finance and Taxation Committee, and led efforts to sort out the oil tax that North Dakota generated at the height of the oil boom.

"Sen. Cook was a beloved statesman and an exceptional leader in shaping tax policy for the benefit of all North Dakotans during his 22 years of dedicated service in the Legislature. We’re also grateful for his service to his country in the North Dakota Air National Guard and to his community through Kiwanis and other organizations," North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said. “Kathryn and I extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family, friends and legislative colleagues.”

Senator John Hoeven also memorialized Cook.

“For more than 20 years, Senator Cook helped build a more prosperous North Dakota, providing a higher quality of life and more opportunity for our state’s people,” said Hoeven. “As a small business owner, he understood the challenges facing our economy, which informed his tireless work as chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. We join his family, friends and community in honoring his legacy and a life of service, not only in the state legislature, but as a member of both the North Dakota National Guard and Kiwanis.”

Senator Kevin Cramer recalled working with Cook during his time in the Ed Schafer administration.

"“I worked closely with Dwight on finance and tax policy when I was Economic Development Director in the Schafer administration, and I remember there was a threat of the oil refinery in Mandan being shut down," Senator Cramer said. "Dwight and I went to work together right in the middle of the session, finding some tax policy that would create enough of an incentive to keep that very important asset open, creating those great jobs and producing refined oil products."

Cook was 72-years-old.