Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kansas State Governors

The Kansas State Constitution states that, "the supreme executive power of this state shall be vested in a governor, who shall be responsible for the enforcement of the laws of this state. "

Since Kansas became a state in 1861 there have been 45 governors serving as the chief executive of state. They have come from all corners of Kansas and covered a broad political spectrum. They have presided over our state during wars, drought, insurrection, scandals, floods, social upheaval and economic downturns. The Kansas political environment seen by outsiders might appear to be as serene as the rolling hills along I-70 but a closer look reveals a complicated "ecosystem" in which our governors have played a vital role through the years.

There have been 32 Republican governors, eleven Democrats and two Populists. Some have served for eight years. One served for twelve days. After serving as governor several served terms in Congress; one served as U.S. Secretary of War; another as a U.S. federal judge; one ran unsuccessfully for public office in Canada; another was the Archivist of the United States; one was a Republican candidate for President; and one is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Below is some basic information on the office of Governor as well as the individuals who have held that office.

Powers and Duties of the Governor

State Constitution, Article 1
(Outline of powers and duties of the governor set forth by the State Constitution)

Kansas Statutes 75-101 et seq
(You can browse through the Statutes online starting at 75-101. The Statutes on this website are not up to date. Also bear in mind that specific duties and powers of the governor are found throughout the Kansas Statutes, not just in this section.

Legislative Procedure in Kansas
(Check out Chapter 15 for how the Governor acts on legislation passed by the Legislature)

The Governor's Budget, FY 2011, volume 1
(The beginning section of Volume 1 contains an organizational chart of Kansas government and gives a good summary of the governor's duties as they relate to state finance)

The Government of Kansas / by James W. Drury with Marvin Stottlemire (2001)
(This book has gone through several editions and is a good read in understanding the workings of government in Kansas)

Mark Parkinson, Current Governor of Kansas
---Governor's website (http://governor.ks.gov/)
---News Releases
---Capitol Blog

Governors' Speeches, Writings, Records, etc.

Kansas Governors' Messages
(A collection of Governors' messages transcribed or digitzed by State Library of Kansas staff)

Governors' Papers and Records
All state and territorial governors left behind papers and records during their administations. These records give insight into the workings of government and many records are open to the public for research. The State Archives, located at the Kansas History Center in Topeka, has most of the governors' records. Spencer Library at the University of Kansas has two governors' records collections. Governor George Docking destroyed his records after his term of office was over.
---Kansas State Archives
(A list of Kansas territorial and state governors, terms of service, with online finding aids for their records. Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)
---Spencer Library, University of Kansas
(Governors Robert Docking and Robert Bennett donated their gubernatorial records to the University of Kansas)

Other Resources on Kansas Governors

Kansas Governors
(The Online finding aids linked to in this list also include biographical information. Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

Governors of Kansas
(Short biographical entries on the 45 governors of Kansas. Provided by the National Governors Association)

Essay on Kansas Governors
(Short piece on Kansas governors. Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas Memory
(Primary source material on Kansas state governors provided online by the Kansas State Historical Society)

ATLAS Online Catalog
(Search for information about Kansas governors or for government publications issued by Kansas governors held by the State Library of Kansas, Kansas State Historical Society, Washburn University Libraries and the Kansas Supreme Court Law Library)

Internet Archive
(Hits in the Internet Archive using the terms, Kansas and governor. Not all of these titles pertain to Kansas governors but some do. Among them is an excerpt from a speech by Governor Alf Landon, Republican candidate for President, in 1936)

Kansas Governors / by Homer Socolofsky
Lawrence, Kan. : University of Kansas Press, 1990
(A 1990 book with a chapter on each of the governors. View the ATLAS Online Catalog record)

Article contact: Bill Sowers
(My thanks to Kim Harp for her help in putting together this information)

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