Growing up on a pig farm near Parker, Kansas, Sam Brownback learned first-hand about the hard-work, responsibility, and teamwork that farming requires. Today his parents, Robert and Nancy still live on and work the farm near Parker. Sam goes to help his family with the harvest and every day chores, which helps his parents and family farm persevere through the hot Kansas summers and cold winters.
Sam’s passion for public service began when he attended Prairie View High School and was elected state president of the Future Farmers of America and later the national FFA vice-president. His participation in FFA taught him about the value of leadership.
After graduating from Prairie View in 1974, Sam attended Kansas State University in Manhattan where he served as KSU student body president his senior year. Sam also belonged to the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He received his degree in Agricultural Economics in 1978.
After working for a year hosting a radio show, Sam attended the University of Kansas, School of Law where he served as class president before completing his law degree in 1982.
Sam met his wife Mary while they were both attending the University of Kansas, School of Law. They have been married for over 30 years.
Sam calls Mary “the glue that holds our family together.” The Brownbacks live in Topeka and have five children – Abby, Andy, Liz, Mark, and Jenna. After their own adoption experience, the Brownbacks have helped establish the Building Families Fund to assist Kansas families with adoption expenses.
After law school, Sam and Mary moved to Manhattan where Sam went to work for a local law firm and Mary commuted to Lawrence to finish her law degree. While in Manhattan, Sam also taught agricultural law at Kansas State University and co-authored two books on the subject.
A Career of Public Service
In 1986, two major milestones took place for Sam and Mary. Their first child, Abby, was born and Sam became Secretary of the Kansas Board of Agriculture, the youngest in state history.
The farming industry was struggling in the late 80s. Sam worked to renew the rural heartland by actively engaging in re-opening U.S. beef trade in Asia, expanding market opportunities for agriculture products, and promoting new uses of farm commodities.
During his time as Ag Secretary, Sam served as a White House Fellow in the George H.W. Bush Administration.
In 1994, Sam was elected to Congress in the Republican Revolution that brought the first Republican-controlled House of Representatives to Washington since Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. Sam was selected by other freshman Congressmen to be the head of the New Federalists, a group focused on producing a smaller federal government and a balanced budget.
Two years later Kansans elected Sam to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Bob Dole. In the Senate, Sam was an effective advocate for Kansas interests.
He served as the top-ranking Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees U.S. Department of Agriculture programs as well as agencies responsible for food safety and protection of public health such as the Food and Drug Administration.
As a member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, Sam's top priority was to ensure full support for the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility in Kansas. As part of the team that won this competition for Kansas, Sam worked hard to see that Kansas reaped the full benefits of this exciting development.
He believed deeply then as he does now that we must defend traditional marriage, confirm judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench, protect and renew our American culture and defend innocent human life at every stage of development.
He pledged he would serve only two full elected terms in the U.S. Senate. In 2010, he honored his pledge and did not seek reelection. Instead, he returned to Kansas and ran for Governor.
As the 46th governor of Kansas, Sam is focused on getting the state’s economy growing again and creating jobs through streamlined regulations, controlled spending, and lower taxes.
When Sam took office in 2011, Kansas was in the third straight year of declining revenues, more than 110,000 Kansans were out of work, and the state budget faced a $500 million projected shortfall. Sam worked with the Kansas Legislature to turn that deficit into a nearly $500 million ending balance in one year.
Sam believes the only lasting solution to Kansas’ fiscal crisis is sustained economic growth and new job creation. Getting more Kansans working again and businesses growing will lead to increased revenues, less reliance on government, and adequate funding for core state programs and services.
Since taking office, the administration has proposed fiscally responsible budgets, consolidated state agencies, eliminated outdated programs, cut taxes on all working Kansans and small business owners, and enacted laws that protect the sanctity of life.
These efforts have resulted in balanced budgets and historic tax reform, which will save Kansans and Kansas small businesses money and create new jobs. The state’s economy is growing and more Kansans are working.
Governor Brownback and Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. are committed to working with Kansas business and community leaders from across the state as well as current and former state legislators to craft Kansas solutions. Their “Road Map for Kansas” is a detailed plan to Grow the State’s Economy; Excel in Education; Reform State Government; and Protect Kansas Families.
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2015 National Lawyers Convention
This panel was held during the 2015 National Lawyers Convention Annual Dinner on Thursday, November...