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Senate's Fiscal Gatekeepers Hand Off the Keys, for First Time in 10 Years

Kenley, Hershman retirements bring first-time chairmen for two powerful committees

(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) - Legislators will begin the 2018 session Wednesday with new chairmen in both its key financial committees, for the first time in a decade.

Senators Travis Holdman and Ryan Mishler have spent a combined 24 years in the Senate, but they'll be newcomers as the leaders of the powerful Appropriations and Tax and Fiscal Policy Committees. President Pro Tem David Long says there's a loss of institutional knowledge with the retirements of longtime chairmen Luke Kenley and Brandt Hershman, but says he doesn't expect any significant difficulties,

Long says he's had an eye on succession planning for several years, recognizing Kenley in particular was nearing retirement. He says Mishler essentially apprenticed under Kenley, crafting the school funding formula in the last budget. And all four senators served together on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

The Appropriations Committee has had just three chairmen in the 40 years Republicans have controlled the Senate. Indianapolis Senator Larry Borst chaired its predecessor, the Senate Finance Committee. When Borst lost a 2004 reelection bid, the committee's responsibilities were split in two, with Kenley becoming chairman of the newly-formed Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee. Hershman replaced him four years later when Kenley moved to Appropriations. 

The two chairmen's departures were widely expected when this year's session ended in April. Kenley confirmed his retirement in July. Hershman followed suit last week, taking a job in Washington.

Former Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (right)  (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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