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Marvin Barkis, Kansas

Interview of Marvin Barkis, October 27, 2017

Interviewed by H. Edward (Ed) Flentje
Marvin Barkis discusses, in detail, the various processes within the House of Representatives in its day-to-day work. He points out differences in working as the majority versus the minority party and talks about working with the governors during his terms in office. When Barkis was the minority leader, he tried to build a sense of community among party members to facilitate working together. Barkis also made changes in legislative procedures to promote efficiency. Much of the interview addresses these internal procedures. Marvin Barkis' primary legislative passion was children’s issues and the interview covers the various attempts to Show Morework on a variety of topics to aid children. He was also involved with school finance, reapportionment, and the death penalty. Show Less

Interview of Bill Bunten, February 18, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
Bill Bunten's 28 years in the House, 20 of them on the Ways and Means or Appropriations committee, gave him tremendous knowledge about the state budget. He chaired Appropriations from 1983 until 1990 when he left the legislature. He returned to the state Senate in 2003 to fill an unexpired term. Bunten later served two terms as Mayor of Topeka from 2005 until 2013.
Darlene Cornfield, Kansas

Interview of Darlene Cornfield, October 9, 2020

Interviewed by Patty Clark
Former State Representative Darlene Cornfield reflects on her six sessions in the Kansas House representing the 90th House District (Sedgwick Co.). She describes the issues that come back year after year and the challenges faced by a new legislator. She identifies the difficulties faced by conservatives at a time when the Republican party was undergoing an ideological change. Cornfield observes that the citizen legislature is most effective but did not favor term limits.
Dale Dennis, Kansas

Interview of Dale Dennis, August 28, 2020

Interviewed by Andy Tompkins
People interested in the development of education policy in Kansas will find no better resource than this 2020 oral history interview with Dale Dennis, Deputy Commissioner of Education. This interview was conducted by Dr. Andy Tompkins, a former Kansas Commissioner of Education. During the interview, Dennis speaks candidly about policy development, indicating the issues and the legislators who were intrinsically involved. The interview covers the 1972 lawsuit which was the first dealing with issues of equity in school funding. Twenty years later, the 1992 school finance lawsuit again challenged the lack of equalization which rendered the formula unconstitutional. The process Show Moreby which the Legislature, Governor Joan Finney, Speaker Marvin Barkis, and others went about addressing the Court's concerns is explained in detail. By 2000 the Legislature had again failed to fund the school finance formula fully and the Montoy lawsuit arose. There was another case in 2010 (Gannon); this time the problem was the adequacy of the funding to meet constitutional requirements. Moving on from school finance lawsuits, the interview covers school consolidation and related issues of local control. Dennis explains why he started offering budget workshops to school administrators, including the development of software and the use of computers. This interview includes a brief discussion of the 1999-2000 legislation that moved state oversight of community colleges and technical schools (later termed technical colleges) from the Kansas Department of Education to the Kansas Board of Regents. Show Less
tim emert kansas

Interview of Tim Emert, October 4, 2019

Interviewed by Jim McLean
Tim Emert's interview covers his Senate career in the last decade of the Twentieth century, following passage of a markedly different school finance bill in 1992 and with a divided Republican caucus in the Senate--a time of big change. Emert stepped into the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary committee immediately and later moved up to Majority Leader by a one-vote margin. The interview is filled with descriptions of coalitions he formed to get legislation passed. As Judiciary chair Emert dealt with both the death penalty, which he personally opposed, and a bill restricting late term abortions which Show Moreno one liked but passed. He worked with Christine Downey to get a major policy change regarding community colleges. There are also descriptions of his work on the State Board of Education and later, the Board of Regents. Emert describes himself as neither moderate or conservative, but "a realistic Republican." As Majority Leader he talks about the "juggling act" trying to keep communication with the conservative House Speakers (Shallenburger and Jennison) and the Senate. He explains the tension in having both the poorest and richest counties in his district and trying to provide equalization of school funding. The interview touches on the renovation of the Capitol and also renovation of Cedar Crest. Show Less
Sheila Frahm, Kansas

Interview of Sheila Frahm, November 13, 2020

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
In this 2020 oral history interview, former Kansas State Senator Sheila Frahm reflects on her time in elected office from local school board to U.S. Senate. This interview was conducted on ZOOM with Frahm at her home in Arizona and the interviewer in Topeka. The interview begins with a discussion of an earlier (1991) interview conducted by a Washburn University professor that covers much of Frahm's background and her interest in education issues. It covers her life in Topeka in the early years of her service and how her family moved to Topeka with her for the session each year Show Moreand why. Frahm provides a unique point of view on the relationships between Governors and the Legislature. She discusses her decision to leave the legislature and run for Lt. Governor with Bill Graves and her subsequent appointment to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy when Bob Dole decided to run for President. This interview includes a segment during which Frahm talks about several issues in which she was involved: community colleges and out-district tuition and triple-trailers. During the interview Frahm reflects on her identity as a western Kansas legislator and how her roots, her up-bringing, shaped others' perceptions of her legislatively. She saw the years during which she served in the State Senate as very productive, citing school finance in 1992 and advances in higher education as two important policies that were enacted. The interview concludes with Frahm's reflections on the civility of the body, the importance of relationships to accomplish your goals, and advice to prospective candidates. Show Less
Dave Heinemann, Kansas

Interview of Dave Heinemann, July 10, 2014

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
In this 2014 oral history interview, Dave Heinemann recalls his long career in the Kansas House representing Garden City, a career that spanned the years during which there were important changes in Kansas government. He served during an era when rural influence in the Legislature was waning due to fundamental changes in legislative districts. Heinemann's recollections of how legislators serve their constituents and how they worked with one another to craft legislation paint a picture of collaboration in the creation of public policy. His perspective points to the importance of personal relationships with colleagues within the chamber, Show Moreacross the rotunda in the Senate, and with the Governor's office. Show Less
Kansas House Speaker Robin Jennison

Interview of Robin Jennison, October 4, 2019

Interviewed by Jim McLean
Jim McLean’s interview of Robin Jennison is lengthy but full of interesting stories and anecdotes about what went on in the legislature in the last decade of the 20th Century. McLean teases out both the politics and policy from Jennison’s experiences in the House with the 1992 school finance bill and his Republican alternative. Jennison shares his philosophy on how to fund schools, lower property taxes, leadership races and his rapid rise to Speaker in the 1999-2000 sessions. The strategy he used to pass the 1999 transportation bill out of the House is clever. There is Show Morean anecdote about replacing carpet in the Judicial Center and what it took to get that appropriation passed. Jennison describes his role as Secretary of Wildlife and Parks and working under Governor Brownback. Show Less
Dave Kerr, Kansas

Interview of Dave Kerr, August 23, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
In a 2019 oral history interview Dave Kerr recalls nearly 20 years in the Kansas Senate including his terms as Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and President of the Senate. His tenure in the senate spanned the period when state resources were directed toward economic development, an effort he thought was much needed. Kerr also recalls the revamping of the public education funding formula in 1992 and reorganization of governance and oversight of postsecondary education. He observes that key characteristics of a leader are willingness to listen to various points of view and endure the Show More"slings and arrows" of leadership. Show Less
Senator Fred Kerr

Interview of Fred Kerr, March 30, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
This is the first of two oral history interviews of Fred Kerr in this collection. (Ed Flentje conducted the second interview 2018.) Kerr reflects on his 15 years in the Kansas Senate representing the 33rd Senate district. He recalls Senate leaders and fellow Senators who helped him as a freshman and the influence of those mentors on his career. Fred talks extensively about the process involved in securing a leadership position in the Senate and the dynamics of leadership races. He also reflects on the urban-rural divide in Kansas politics that during the late Show More1970s and early to mid 1980s was often more of a force than the partisan divide. A version of this interview is also posted on KansasMemory.org, the website of the Kansas Historical Society. A more recent oral history interview of Fred Kerr is here. Show Less
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