Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was born in Mohall, North Dakota. He graduated from the University of North Dakota and received his law degree from the UND School of Law in 1977. He is married to Beth Bakke Stenehjem and has a son, Andrew.
Stenehjem was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1976, serving for two terms until his election to the ND Senate in 1980. He served for twenty years in the Senate until his election to the Office of Attorney General. Stenehjem served on the Judiciary Committee throughout his tenure in the Legislature, and was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-2000. He was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the 1999 Legislative Session. In January 2001, Stenehjem was sworn in as the State’s 29th Attorney General. He was reelected in 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Since taking office Wayne has:
- Made drug enforcement a priority, proposing legislation to developing a drug enforcement initiative which coordinates law enforcement, health and human service agencies, and as well as addiction counseling, youth education, and stronger penalties for offenders.
- Launched the state’s sex offender website to provide parents and other concerned citizens with access to information about the most dangerous sex offenders in the state.
- Worked to enact and enforce legislation to curb methamphetamine (meth) use and addiction in the state by restricting retail sales of certain products used to manufacture meth, to provide mandatory treatment for drug offenders, and increase criminal penalties for drug offenders which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the production and use of meth in North Dakota.
- Established the state’s Do Not Call list, giving North Dakota consumers welcome relief from unwanted telemarketing calls.
- Has worked diligently to eliminate domestic violence in the state. He was awarded the “Love Without Fear Award” by the Abused Adult Resource Center, noting that, during his years in the Legislature, he had been a sponsor or cosponsor of every piece of legislation enacted in the state designed to curb domestic violence.
- Introduced an online Identity Theft program, designed to provide North Dakota victims with “one click” access to all the information and forms necessary to document and identity theft.
- Launched the state’s “Cold Case Investigations” squad to assist local law enforcement agencies with unsolved missing person and homicide cases. The squad utilizes advances in forensics and DNA technology and new investigative techniques to re-investigate evidence and explore new leads.
- Established a sobriety pilot program to keep repeat drunk drivers from drinking and driving. Under the 24/7 Sobriety pilot program, repeat DUI offenders in the program area are ordered to complete breath alcohol testing twice a day as a condition of bond. If the offender drinks, the breath test will show it and the offender is taken directly to jail for the bond violation.
- Established, in 2010, the RX TAKE BACK Program, to provide a safe and secure way for residents to dispose of unwanted medications at no cost. The disposal program accepts all over-the-counter and prescription medications – including controlled substances. The Take Back units, which are similar to the needle disposal containers in hospital rooms but on a much larger scale, are located in the lobby of local law enforcement agencies. The program is operated by the Attorney General’s office at no cost to the participating communities or the local law enforcement agencies. To date, it isthe nation’s only ongoing, permanent, statewide program.
Attorney General Stenehjem is a member of numerous boards and commissions, including the Board of University and School Lands, Industrial Commission(which oversees all state-owned industries including the Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator), Drug and Alcohol Commission (chair), Judicial Council and Pardon Advisory Board.
He was named one of Ten Outstanding Legislators in the US by the Association of Government Employees, and is the recipient of “Champion of the People’s Right to Know” award; SBAND Legislative Service Award; “Friend of Psychology” award; the 2005 North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association’s Lone Eagle Award, was inducted into the Scandinavian American Hall of Fame in 2007, and was named the 2011 Bismarck State College Alumnus of the Year. An Eagle Scout since 1968, Stenehjem was honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2013.