State Rep. Jim DuPlessis, whose defeat of an 11-term Democratic incumbent foretold a statewide shift toward Republican leadership, has decided to leave the House at the end of next year.
Increasing work responsibilities and a desire for more family time prompted in part by his 6-month-old granddaughter led to the decision, DuPlessis said in an interview. He and his wife, Marcy, have three adult children.
A water quality engineer with ChemTreat, DuPlessis serves clients across Kentucky and Indiana. A business partner is retiring and DuPlessis said he’ll be taking on new duties that demand more time.
Considering his legislative commitments, he said, “I knew one of the two was going to suffer and I don’t want that to happen. ... I didn’t want to be that representative that’s not fully attentive to his district.”
DuPlessis won the seat in 2014 with 50.9 percent of the vote against Jimmie Lee, a former Hardin County Democratic Party chairman, who haserved the 25th District since 1993. He had no opposition in 2020 after winning re-election against Democrats Michael Dile in 2016 and Tom Williamson in 2018.
Over the past seven years in office, DuPlessis said he’s seen his two key objectives take hold in the legislature. He campaigned on more fiscal responsibility in Frankfort and a pro-life agenda.
DuPlessis said the legislature has taken strides to keep spending in check while managing to fully fund state pensions for the first time in history. He’s also pleased about broadening sales tax, including tax on services, in order to reduce income taxes. DuPlessis said he favors continued tax reform moving toward the Tennessee model, which has no state income tax.
Since a Republican majority took control of the state House in his second term, DuPlessis said the pro-life measures passed have been “very satisfying” to him. “The first time I got to push that green ‘yes button’ on a pro-life bill was special,” he recalled.
Entering the legislature as part of the minority party provided a perspective which DuPlessis says he’s tried to use when dealing with Democratic legislators now that the GOP has a supermajority of 75 of the 100 House seats.
“I remember what it was like to be ignored and pushed to the side,” he said. “I try not to do that.”
He said he hopes to be remembered as “a good, reasonable person who listened and used his common sense.” He said he “is not just a party guy. I voted my convictions and the convictions of my district.”
Tim Moore of Elizabethtown, a former state representative who stepped down from a neighboring district because of a work status change in 2019, described DuPlessis as bringing a pragmatic, business mindset to the General Assembly.
“He’s been a voice that’s been passionate on pursuing policy, not only for Hardin County but for the commonwealth,” said Moore, a fellow Republican. “His service will be missed.”
House Speaker David Osborne praised DuPlessis’ work in the House majority caucus as well as his willingness to work across party lines.
“Jim is a proven leader who seeks solutions and he’s willing to work with everyone to identify the right answer for some of the biggest challenges our state faces,” Osborne said in a written statement issued Sunday night. “He’s independent, objective and not afraid to tackle the hard issues.”
That tendency led Osborne to appoint DuPlessis as co-chair of the Public Pension Oversight Board, a committee that assists the General Assembly with its review, analysis and oversight of the troubled Kentucky Retirement Systems.
In the last session, DuPlessis championed HB 8, legislation that passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote and was signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear this month. It provides relief to community services agencies, including rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other community advocacy groups, by changing the formula used to calculate their pension liability.
DuPlessis said he plans to fulfill his current two-year term, which continues through 2022. He said he decided to reveal his intentions early to allow interested individuals time to get organized and plan a campaign.
The filing deadline for the May 2022 primary is in January.
While serving as a representative, DuPlessis said he’s occasionally had people question him about the job and express interest in legislative service but declined to speculate about possible candidates. The 25th District serves more than 40,000 residents of Hardin County and encompasses most of Elizabethtown and runs south to take in Glendale and Sonora.
At age 51, DuPlessis did not rule out the possibility of entering the political arena again at a different stage in life.
DuPlessis offered his thanks to supporters and those who offered prayers on his behalf during his service. He said he’ll miss the camaraderie developed with fellow legislators.
“Most of them up there are like me, just looking to serve the best you can,” he said.