INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, announced Friday he will not seek re-election this year after a 26-year run representing Miami County and the surrounding area in House District 23.
Friend was first elected to the House in 1992 and has served the last four years as speaker pro tempore, who wields the gavel on the House floor when Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is away. His other past leadership positions include minority floor leader and majority floor leader.
Friend also served on the influential House Ways and Means Committee for eight years.
The 68-year-old Miami County native operates his fifth-generation farm near Perrysburg raising hogs. And that’s where he plans to stay after finishing out his term this year.
“I have no plans to move in any direction other than back home on the farm,” he said. “I need to be home and not running away every winter to the statehouse.”
As a farmer, Friend said, he’s been a vocal advocate for rural Indiana and the agricultural community serving on the House Ag Committee – a position he’s held his entire tenure in the House. He also served as chairman of the National Council of State Legislators’ Ag Committee.
Friend more recently has been a strong proponent of legalizing cannabidiol oil for medical treatment for children with epilepsy. That happened in April, but the law has led to confusion and a crackdown on the product across the state by the Indiana Excise Police.
Friend said his main focus during his last legislative session this year will be to clear up the confusion over CBD oil that followed in the wake of the new law.
He said as a long-time leader in the House, he’s been compelled to take a statewide view on issues, but that never dampened his advocacy for the cities and towns in his district.
Indiana Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, has served alongside Friend in the General Assembly since 2002.
"Bill has become a friend in the last 16 years that I've been in the Legislature," Lehe told the Logansport Pharos-Tribune by phone Friday. "He's been a great role model for me when I came in and has been a great representative of his constituents, especially and emphatically the agriculture community and rural and small communities."
Friend said some of his proudest achievements include his push to bring the Miami Correctional Facility prison to what was formerly Grissom Air Base. The prison is now one of the largest employers in the county. He also helped bring Ivy Tech campuses to Peru, Logansport and Rochester.