Growing up in Independence[+]
As part of a sixth-generation Labette County family, Jeff King’s roots in southeast Kansas run deep. Jeff King was born and raised in Independence, the son of two local public school teachers. With over 60 years of educating Kansas youth between them, Jeff’s parents taught him at an early age the value of hard work and a good education. Jeff attended Washington and Riley Elementary Schools in Independence, as well as Independence Middle School. At Independence High School, Jeff worked hard on the sports fields as well as in the classroom. He qualified for the Kansas state championships a total of seven times in tennis, basketball and cross-country. He was also president of the student body and graduated as Valedictorian of his class. In his spare time, Jeff stayed active in the community, teaching tennis to local youth and umpiring baseball and softball games.
Getting a College Education[+]
With an American History teacher for a dad, Jeff quickly learned the value of exploring the United States. Having visited every state but Hawaii by his senior year in high school, Jeff decided to see a different part of the country as a college student. After graduating from IHS, Jeff enrolled at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Attending classes in a former revolutionary war barracks where George Washington once stayed, Jeff learned to appreciate both the great history of our nation and its promising future.
Jeff took this appreciation for our country’s heritage and promise back home during the summers, as he remained active in community life in southeast Kansas. While working to pay for college, Jeff also volunteered in Independence on the campaign committees of former Congressman Dick Nichols (R-KS), former Governor Bill Graves (R-KS), and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R-KS).
Jeff’s active involvement in the community helped him to win a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, an award (in honor of the former president) given to 75 students nationwide who display a commitment to a career in public service. Jeff also graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with degrees in international relations and economics.
Addressing the Challenges Facing American Agriculture[+]
Growing up during the farming crisis of the 1980s, Jeff saw first-hand the devastation to families and local communities when good farmers and ranchers couldn’t make ends meet in the tough agricultural economy. Jeff vowed to learn about the roots of this problem and to work to make sure that the dedicated and hard-working farmers of Kansas could make a living working the land. After college, Jeff worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, where he helped to examine and reform the way the federal government conducts agricultural research. A Rhodes Scholarship national finalist, Jeff attended Cambridge University on a Marshall Scholarship (an award given nationally to 40 people each year).
At Cambridge, Jeff earned a masters degree in agricultural economics and won an award for his work on how agricultural free trade can improve the lives of Midwestern farmers. His study also won praise in America after being published in the Review of Agricultural Economics. While getting his law degree at Yale Law School, Jeff continued his study of agricultural issues, focusing on the difficulties that family farmers and ranchers have competing against big businesses in the world of modern agriculture.
After returning to Kansas, Jeff continued his focus on agriculture. He worked for Attorney General Carla Stovall (R-KS) in her Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division, where he helped the Attorney General prosecute offenders of the state’s antitrust and agricultural statutes. Jeff then continued his public service work, serving in Lawrence, Kansas as a law clerk for Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. After spending a year working for Judge Tacha, Jeff entered private practice with the law firm of Lathrop & Gage. V. Work and Family Life in Independence.
During this time, Jeff met Kimberly (Brant) King while sitting next to her at a Kansas City Chiefs game. On August 28, 2004, Jeff and Kimberly were married in her childhood church in Jefferson City, Missouri. A few months after their wedding, Jeff and Kimberly returned to Independence. Jeff started his own law practice in Independence, specializing in small business and trust litigation, as well as appellate law. In fact, Jeff was one of the attorneys who defended the state of Kansas before the Kansas Supreme Court in the 2005 school finance case that revolutionized education funding in Kansas. Jeff’s law firm, King Law Offices LLC, is located in downtown Independence.
Jeff mounted a successful, grassroots campaign for the Kansas Legislature in 2006, winning his primary and general elections by 66 and 75 percent of the vote respectively. Jeff also won re-election in 2008, garnering the highest percentage victory of any Kansas legislator with a contested race. In the Kansas House, Jeff championed public safety and tax reform. He sponsored and carried on the floor of the Kansas House legislation that has provided over $30 million in annual tax relief to fixed-income seniors and working families. Jeff also authored disaster-relief legislation that has provided over $45 million in state funds for rebuilding communities devastated by the 2007 Greensburg tornado and the 2007 southeast Kansas flood. On July 1, 2009, legislation sponsored by Jeff became law which ensures that criminals who attack and cause bodily harm to Kansas law enforcement officers spend time in prison.
In December 2010, Jeff was elected to the Kansas Senate from the 15th District, replacing now-Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Recognizing the dire challenges facing Kansas from its $8.3 billion underfunded pension system, Jeff quickly became a leader in pension reform. Through his leadership of the KPERS Study Commission, Jeff helped develop a reform plan that will save Kansas taxpayers $3.5-6 billion over the next 20 years while protecting the retirement funds of current and future KPERS retirees. As Vice-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff drafted the final bill that reformed Kansas DUI laws, ending deadly loopholes that allowed repreat drunk drivers to avoid jail time and felony convictions. A leader in tax reform and school finance, Jeff also serves on the Education, Taxation, and Agriculture committees.
Jeff is active in a number of civic organizations. He is a longtime member and past president of the Independence Lions Club. He is also a 2003 graduate of Leadership Kansas. Jeff and his family are active members of Saint Andrew’s Church in Independence, where Jeff serves as a lector and member of the Finance Council. Jeff lives in Independence with his wife Kimberly, daughter Amelie, and his son, Alec.