As my time as a state lawmaker winds down, I want to take a moment to reflect on my time serving in the Indiana Legislature — how I started, what I accomplished and who helped me along the way.
Prior to running for a state Senate seat, I grew a small family business and served as a Noblesville City Court judge. While I never considered myself a “political guy,” at the recommendation of some in the community, I ran for the Indiana Senate in the early 1990s with the intent to help Hoosiers and move the state forward.
As a new legislator, I started by addressing small issues within our state, but as my role grew in the Senate, so did my goals. Since 2009, I’ve chaired the Senate Committee on Appropriations, a role that is central to the creation of the state budget.
Education was always a top budget priority for me. I worked to ensure the citizens of our state had the opportunity to receive a quality education by providing ample funding for K-12 and higher education over the last 10 years and sponsoring legislation to create the College Choice 529 Direct Savings Plan, which gives parents a chance to receive up to a $1,000 credit on state taxes.
Along with a high-quality education, I wanted Hoosiers to be able to provide for themselves, so I authored a welfare reform bill that promoted work, self-sufficiency and personal responsibility of the recipient.
I also wanted to help Hoosiers financially by keeping taxes low. Over the years, I worked on legislative efforts to eliminate the state’s inventory tax, permanently cap property taxes and sponsored legislation to do away with the state’s inheritance tax.
One last thing I really wanted to accomplish before retirement was to help Indiana plan for our transportation infrastructure needs. In 2017, we created a $20 billion, 20-year road funding plan, which went into effect in July.
I am proud of my accomplishments, but without the help of many people along the way, I would not have been as successful.
I want to thank the state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have served with me over the years. Solving one issue at a time, we made Indiana the robust fiscal state it is today.
I want to thank the members of Indiana’s executive branch who mentored and supported me over the last 25 years.
I want to thank those who served alongside me in my local precinct office. With their help, Senate District 20 has seen substantial growth and improvement.
I want to thank my constituents, whose input through emails, phone calls and meetings helped drive many of my legislative decisions.
Finally, I’d like to reflect on my fond memories interacting with young people and our future leaders at the Statehouse.
A longstanding tradition in the General Assembly is our page program, which allows young Hoosiers to visit the General Assembly during session and see firsthand how policy is made.
In addition to meeting with the pages, I have also worked with interns since I started in the Senate. One of my favorite traditions is hosting the intern class every year at my home.
Finally, in 1999, I began the Luke Kenley Leadership Conference. Every year, I invited students from schools located in Senate District 20 to attend a conference at the Statehouse and learn about state and local government and leadership.
In meeting with so many young people, I have seen the energy and optimism they have to make Indiana an even better place. Now and in the future, Hoosiers are in great hands.