Former South Dakota House majority leader dies

September 15, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A former South Dakota lawmaker who helped ban smoking in bars and restaurants and served as House majority leader died this week.

Bob Faehn, who was 63, died from cancer on Monday, according to his family. Gov. Kristi Noem ordered that flags be flown half-staff at the Capitol on Friday in his honor.

During his tenure in the state House from 2005 to 2010, Faehn, a Republican, pushed a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. He also worked in South Dakota media, starting as an ad salesman and sportswriter at the Watertown Public Opinion and eventually starting KXLG Radio in Watertown.

“The smoking issue was his number one concern,” said Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, who was friends with Faehn. “He was a force for good in our community.”

Schoenbeck said he and Faehn initially found themselves on opposing sides of political races in the Watertown area, but became friends sharing car rides to Pierre during the legislative session.

As the House majority leader from 2009 to 2010, Faehn worked closely with Noem, who was the assistant majority leader at the time.

She said in a statement, “Bob was a dear friend, and it was a tremendous privilege to serve as his assistant majority leader.”