Rep. Bob Grant, D-Frontenac, said that if he was going out, he was going to do so in style. Not only did Grant, the District 2 Representative since 1991, make the announcement on the House floor, he also rented a tuxedo for the occasion.
“Yes, I sure did rent a tuxedo,” Grant said in an interview.
Grant will retire his position effective Dec. 10, 2013, according to a press release. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, the House Committee on Transportation, the Joint Committee on Claims against the State and the Joint Committee on State Building Construction.
“I want to thank the people of the second district for allowing me the distinct privilege and opportunity to represent them in Topeka,” said Grant in a prepared statement. “It has been an honor to serve this district. Southeast Kansas is a great part of the state and I hope I have served it well. “It’s been a hell of ride, but come January, it will be time for me to stay home. May God bless you all and may God bless the great state of Kansas.”
Grant joked that the reason he was leaving Topeka was that he had “worn out his welcome,” but later said that the “fire wasn’t there any more.”
“It used to be fun, but it got to where it wasn’t fun,” Grant said. “In all honesty, I didn’t feel like I wanted to run last election, but they couldn’t find anyone interested in running. It’s going to be wide open now, but I’m trying to lay my cards on the table.”
Interestingly, the seat will change hands from Grant in the same way it changed to Grant. Because he’s retiring in the middle of a two-year term, the seat will be filled in a unique way. The precinct Democrats will have what amounts to a convention to nominate someone to fill Grant’s seat for the remainder of the term.
“It’s the same way I got elected in 1991 when Sam Roper quit,” Grant said. “I was nominated to replace him. Whoever they choose, they’ll send the results to the governor, who makes the official appointment. Usually whoever they pick is who the governor chooses.”
Over the years, Grant has overseen some major legislation. Of particular note to him were the school finance and abortion issues that were taken up by the Democrat-majority Kansas House in the early 1990s.
“That’s probably the most important thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Grant said, referring to the school finance push. “It made it more equal for the small schools to compare to the big schools. We cut mill levies in most school districts and increased budgets, too.”
However, there are a few regrets for a veteran of the Kansas Legislature for more than 20 years.
Page 2 of 2 - “One thing I am sorry we couldn’t get done is get gaming in Southeast Kansas,” Grant said. “We’ve got it, but it’s just not a workable formula. I’m disappointed we couldn’t get what we needed to get for gaming in SEK. I don’t think that’s the answer to all our problems. But we’re losing a lot of money to Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado, even. Every casino that’s opened is doing better than expected.”
Over his years in the Kansas Legislature, Grant has served under five governors: Finney, Graves, Sebelius, Parkinson and Brownback.
“I’ve had disagreements with all of them. Even the two Democrats I’ve had opinions opposite,” Grant said. “It’s been a hell of a ride, but it’s time to go home and do something else.”
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, thanked Grant for his work in the Legislature.
“Bob is a results-driven legislator who could always be relied upon to make sound decisions in the Capitol,” Davis said. “We will miss his expertise, his dedication, and most of all his sense of humor.”
Grant will finish up the work this session, but leave before the start of the next session.
“I want to thank everybody. This has been the best opportunity I’ve ever had. I’ve learned a lot in Topeka. I’ve made a lot of friends. Hopefully I’ve made no enemies. I think I did accomplish the best job I could for the people of Southeast Kansas, and the people of Kansas as a whole,” Grant said.