State Rep. Kenny Wilk leaving Legislature
Topeka State Rep. Kenny Wilk, who has successfully pushed through major economic policy changes in the Legislature for years, said Monday he would not seek re-election.
Wilk, R-Lansing and a 16-year veteran of the House, said it was time to give someone else an opportunity to serve.
"I've tried to do my part to make the state a little bit better place," he said.
His colleagues said they were surprised by his decision and that they hated to see him go.
Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said Wilk was a force on economic legislation.
"That has been one of his passions," Morris said.
Wilk was the main sponsor of a bond program to build higher education research facilities and launching a massive effort to increase the bioscience industry in Kansas.
And Wilk was respected on both sides of the aisle.
"The legislative process is really driven by a small number of legislators who are interested in policy issues and have the skills to communicate those," said state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. "Kenny has been at the heart of a lot of important legislative initiatives."
Wilk has served as chairman of the budget, economic development and several special committees. Currently he is chairman of the tax committee, and said targeted business tax cuts approved by the Legislature over the past five years have helped Kansas workers.
But Wilk's legislative success never translated into gaining the top position in the House: speaker. He ran twice for speaker, losing to Doug Mays in 2002 and the current speaker Melvin Neufeld in 2006.
Wilk has often been mentioned as a possible candidate for state senate, but he said he would not run for office this year. He said, however, that he wouldn't shut the door to possibly running for another position in future years.