Retiring state senator Kenley draws praise from both parties

Indiana State Sen. Luke Kenley, a Republican from Noblesville, center, speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Jan. 5, 2016, Kenley, one of Indiana's most influential state lawmakers, is stepping down after 25 years in the Legislature. The Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman announced July 5, 2017, that he would retire effective Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The next time Indiana lawmakers craft a budget, there’s going to be a major change at who’s behind it.

On Wednesday, State Sen. Luke Kenley, a Republican from Noblesville, announced he’s retiring after 25 years. He caught up with the Indiana Statehouse Bureau on Thursday to explain why.

He said he spent the past session grooming other appropriation members to take his position. He believes they could assume the position when lawmakers have to craft a new budget in 2019.

He’s not done yet. Kenley took part in a budget committee Thursday to get an explanation about why the state took over the Interstate 69 project in Martinsville.

During the meeting, not only his Republican colleagues but also Democrats thanked him.

“I started out as a person who really was never that enthused about government,” Kenley said. “Somehow I managed to serve 2-1/2 years in the Army and 15 as a city court judge and then 25 years as a state senator.”

“If they were having a problem with something in Gary, he would get in his car and drive up there, and say, ‘Explain this to me now,’ State Sen. Karen Tallian, a Democrat from Portage, said. “You know, that’s what it took to do that job and he has done it.”

Kenley said passing the road-funding bill was another reason why he retired. The law increases the price at the pump and adds fees, but he believes it will maintain Indiana’s roads for years to come.

Kenley will leave his position on Sept. 30. Party leaders will select his replacement.

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