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Christine Downey, Kansas

Interview of Christine Downey, August 2, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
Former State Senator Christine Downey recalls her three terms in the Kansas Senate (1993-2004) during her 2019 oral history interview. With her background as a teacher, education issues were important to her as the era of school-funding litigation continued. She was involved in water-related policy making, in particular at the nexus of water quality and agricultural practices. She recalls her service in the Senate and on the Kansas Board of Regents first developing the policy and then implementing fundamental changes to the postsecondary education system. Ms. Downey discusses numerous instances of working across the aisle Show Moreto accomplish policy objectives that did not break on strict party lines. Show Less
steve morris kansas senate

Interview of Stephen Morris, July 15, 2020

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Senate President Steve Morris gives a lengthy and detailed account of his twenty years in the Senate and his eight years as president. A former Hugoton school board member, Morris challenged a 16 year incumbent Democrat (Leroy Hayden) and won by a 2:1 margin in the 1992 election. During this period there were several high profile issues which Morris championed. Casino gambling passed in 2007 after a 12 hour filibuster. A coal-fired plant (Sunflower Electric) in Holcomb wanted to expand but Governor Sebelius vetoed that bill, twice. The Special Session of 2005 dealt with a Show MoreSupreme Court order to increase education funding to constitutional levels which took 12 days to develop a consensus. A 2010 transportation plan was passed during a recession. Morris initiated a three-university plan to increase the number of engineers in the state by 65 percent beginning in 2011, assisted by Senator Carolyn McGinn. Governor Sam Brownback's "tax experiment" which was passed in 2012 took huge amounts out of the transportation plan to close budget gaps. The interview contains a detailed account of the shenanigans that took place after the Senate refused to pass the Brownback bill. The Governor pleaded with Morris to reverse their action and send the bill to conference, which Morris did, only to find the House concurring to pass the original bill. Morris ran again, but was defeated in a Republican primary. Show Less

Interview of Edward (Ed) Reilly, July 2, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
In his 2019 oral history interview former State Senator Ed Reilly recalls controversial issues that went through the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee during his tenure as chair (1971-1992). Those issues include the death penalty, liquor by the drink, lottery, pari-mutuel wagering, and casino gambling, some of which required adoption of Constitutional amendments. Reilly attributes the acceptance of those cultural changes in part to the need to raise additional state revenue. Reilly recalls professional relationships with the Statehouse press corps and the influence of grass-roots interests. He observed the increase in the number of women in the Legislature and Show Morecomments about their contributions. Show Less
Bob Storey, Kansas

Interview of Robert (Bob) Storey, February 5, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
Bob Storey in his 2015 oral history interview recalls his service in the Kansas Senate from 1969-1976. His recollection is of a senate that was in transition in terms of urban-rural influence on policymaking due to the one-person, one-vote principle enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the mid-1960s. He recalls intricacies of interactions among senate leaders and governors and occasional intrigue in senate leadership elections. He also reflects on improvements in the functioning of state government during the years when reorganization and modernization of many state functions took place.

Interview of Jene Vickrey, September 11, 2020

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Jene Vickrey talks candidly about his first campaign (where he narrowly defeated then-Speaker Marvin Barkis) as having not much money but "a lot of shoe leather." He discusses his political mentors, Melvin Neufeld and Tim Shallenburger and the advice they gave him in the early years, about lobbyists and handling hot-button issues. He learned not only from his mentors, but other colleagues who helped him, some of whom were Democrats. The interview covers bills he sponsored, many of which were pro-life legislation. He describes the "tough challenges" such as foster care systems (he was a foster Show Moreparent), school finance and taxes. He didn't support casino gambling although his constituents were in favor of it. The interview concludes with Vickrey reflecting on the changes he saw in 28 years, the growth in the number of conservatives and a loosening of the control of the House from leadership to the body itself by rules changes for more transparency as well as becoming more partisan. Show Less

Interview Series of Don Hill, Spring, 2017

Interviewed by Janice Huston
In a wide-ranging series of interviews conducted by Jan Huston of the Lyon County Historical Society, former Representative Don Hill talks candidly about his experiences over 14 years of service to the 60th district in the Kansas Legislature. During those 14 years Hill experienced a sea-change in legislative culture as well as saw a profound shift in political philosophy among its leaders. Hill worked closely with three governors - Sebelius, Parkinson, Brownback--and several Speakers of the House. His interviews reveal the intricacies of creating public policy and making change happen. For students of Kansas government, this Show Moreset of manuscripts will be invaluable in understanding the shifts in leadership which occurred during this period, as well as policy failures and successes with tough issues such as Medicaid expansion, a 10 year highway plan, passing a compromise to allow the coal-fired plan in the Garden City area to proceed. Show Less

Interview of Raphael Wahwassuck, February 28, 2022

Interviewed by Brad Hamilton
The Tribal Council of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation selected Raphael Wahwassuck to interview with KS Oral History about public policymaking by tribal governments. The interview covers how tribal governments relate to local, state and federal governmental units and how Wahwassuck, as a tribal council member, develops effective working relationships. He gives examples of local cooperation using emergency services and law enforcement. He also speaks to the challenges in ensuring equitable distribution of school funding, COVID relief measures and impact aid. Relationships with local governments are easier than at the state or federal level. Show MoreNation to Nation conversations are more difficult. The development of casino gaming produced increased and adequate revenues for the Tribe since they have no tax revenue from property taxes. Their services to their tribal members and surrounding communities have increased as a result of gaming. At the conclusion of the interview, Wahwassuck told a story about being asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance in his elementary school class and used that story to talk about how his family viewed that the flag, including those who were career military veterans. Show Less
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