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Topic: Bipartisan

lana oleen kansas senate

Interview of Lana Oleen, October 14, 2019

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Lana Oleen, who represented Riley and Geary counties in the Kansas Senate, discusses her four terms in the Senate (1989-2004). Oleen focuses on the leadership approach she developed working within a closely divided caucus and during periods of divided state government. She cultivated her natural inclination to bring people together to find solutions to constituents’ problems and built upon skills first developed as a classroom teacher to rise through the ranks to become Senate Majority Leader.
Dick Bond, Kansas

Interview of Richard (Dick) Bond, September 6, 2019

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Former Senate President Dick Bond candidly discusses his 14 year career in the Kansas Senate which followed a 25 year career in Washington DC as chief of staff for 3 congressmen. Well known in Kansas Republican circles, Bond was appointed to fill a vacancy when Senator Jack Walker became Lieutenant Governor. Bond compares the politics of Washington to Kansas. He saw the passage of liquor-by-the-drink as a boon to economic development. Bond is most proud of the renovation to the Kansas Capitol which was started under his term as President of the Kansas Senate. He Show Morereflected on the changes in the Republican party in recent years and the role the Right to Life movement played in those changes. Show Less
kansas representative nancy brown

Interview of Nancy Brown, October 18, 2019

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
This interview with Nancy Brown covers not only the ten years of her legislative career but her volunteer work on the local (township), state, and national levels. Her philosophy of focusing on the issues rather than party positions sometimes created problems for her within the Republican caucus. Her focus on local issues, from the Stanley Sewer Crisis to annexation to the Blue Valley Recreation Commission created legislative battles but left lasting change that she feels benefited her rural constituencies. She worked on a variety of women's issues, such as expanding funding for mammograms and discussed in detail Show Morehow the legislature was changing its attitude towards women members. She explains how she managed her family, particularly her school-age children during her time in the legislature. The interview concluded with Dr. Annie Miller of the Washburn University Political Science Department leading Brown through a discussion of personal identity and its impact on her legislative career. Show Less
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
Ken Grotewiel, Kansas

Interview of Ken Grotewiel, December 5, 2019

Interviewed by Rex Buchanan
In this 2019 oral history interview, former Representative Ken Grotewiel recalls learning about the state and its urban/rural divide in addressing water issues. He found that these issues were not generally decided on a partisan basis. While representing Wichita in the Kansas House of Representatives, Grotewiel developed a good working relationship with Carl Dean Holmes, a Republican House member from western Kansas, especially on water issues, when they served together on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Although Grotewiel had a reputation as a liberal environmentalist, he views his approach as that of a pragmatist. Among the Show Morewater issues addressed during his service in the House were purchasing storage in federal reservoirs that involved “minimum desirable stream flows,” irrigation, “water rights” that can affect streams, and the interbasin transfer of water. Grotewiel describes in some detail the challenges of passing legislation to fund the State Water Plan; legislation strongly opposed by farm groups and irrigators. He sites approval of water plan funding as an example of bipartisan cooperation and as the most significant accomplishment during his time in the Legislature. By the time he was appointed by Governor Sebelius to be Assistant Director of the Kansas Water Office in 2002, he noted considerable breakdown of civility in the Legislature. Among issues Grotewiel worked on during his service in the Water Office were use of federal money to purchase water rights along the Arkansas River and the purchase of land to protect the Equus Beds aquifer along with resisting the Legislature's diversion of Water Plan moneys for other purposes. Show Less

Interview of Don Hineman, August 20, 2020

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
Representative Don Hineman describes himself as a centrist Republican whose views were shaped by his service as a local elected official. In the interview he talks about the legislative process and his experience on the Federal and State Affairs committee passing a bill to designate the state fossil and why that was important to some of his young constituents. Hineman discusses the state's fiscal difficulties under Governor Sam Brownback and his efforts to work with House Democrat Bill Feuerborn to pass a sales tax increase, and then to override the gubernatorial veto. Hineman illustrates how the use Show Moreof power by legislative leadership can block something that the public wants using the issue of Medicaid Expansion. He concludes by talking about the decline of civility in the legislative process. 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

Interview of James (Jim) Maag, July 17, 2014

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
In this 2014 oral history interview, Jim Maag reflects on his service in the Kansas House of Representatives (1969-1976) including his term as Speaker Pro Tem (1975-1976). It was a time of significant change and modernization of the Kansas Legislature and its processes. Maag provides a clear view into the evolution of the Legislature into a more professional organization. He comments on the bipartisan approaches to policymaking during that era when the urban-rural split affected the dynamic more often than purely partisan considerations. He was witness to the impact of the one person, one vote Show Morecourt case as well as the increased number of women legislators and the reduced number of attorneys. Jim's recollections draw a vivid picture of an institution in transition. His connection with the Legislature continued in his role of legislative liaison for Governor Bennett and later as a lobbyist for the Kansas Bankers Association. Show Less

Interview of Dennis McKinney, August 23, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
Dennis McKinney developed many insights in his sixteen years as a leader in the minority party into how the legislature did work, and how it should work. He recounts numerous instances when things worked well because of bipartisan cooperation and compromise. McKinney's experiences on the House Energy and Natural Resources committee working with Carl Holmes and Ken Grotewiel helped shape water policy in Kansas. His experience as a farmer and rancher in south central Kansas coupled with his focus on problem solving led to his reputation as a "middle of the road legislator" who would work Show Morewith both political sides as well as urban and rural. McKinney was committed to public education as well as conservation. The pursuit of fair and balanced tax policy shaped his actions. The interview highlights the importance of leadership from the governor's office and other legislative leaders (Mays, Shallenburger, D. Kerr, Morris). There is an interesting segment about the 2005 Special Session on school finance where McKinney talks about using the courts as leverage. The interview concludes with a brief discussion of the Greensburg tornado. Show Less
robert bob miller kansas representative

Interview of Robert (Bob) Miller, November 9, 2017

Interviewed by H. Edward (Ed) Flentje
Former Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, Robert (Bob) Miller recalls his many years of service to the State. He describes his involvement with the Young Republicans at K-State, his first campaign to represent his area of Sumner County, and moving up through the ranks in the House despite not having ambition for any other elected position. Miller reflects on his sometimes arms-length relationships with fellow House members and with lobbyists. From his position as chair of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee he oversaw the development of implementing legislation for liquor-by-the-drink, parimutuel wagering, and Show Morethe State Lottery by building subject-matter expertise within the committee. Miller describes instances when legislators' positions on policy issues did not break along purely partisan nor on purely urban-rural lines. He also witnessed the early development of what eventually became the conservative movement in the Legislature. A version of this interview is also posted on KansasMemory.org, the website of the Kansas Historical Society. Show Less
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