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2006-08-22 Interview with J.R. Gray, August 22, 2006 Leg001:2006OH159 Leg 145 01:29:10 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Gray, J.R., 1938- -- Interviews Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews Kentucky. Governor (1971-1974 : Ford) Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll) Kentucky. Governor (1979-1983 : Brown) Lieutenant governors--Kentucky Stovall, Thelma McCallum, Shelby Clapp, Lloyd E. Arnold, Adrian Moberly, Harry, Jr., 1950- Bruce, James Edmond Labor unions -- Kentucky Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives -- Labor and Industry Committee Public utilities -- Taxation Right to labor -- Kentucky Collective bargaining -- Government employees Kentucky Labor-Management Advisory Council Wages -- Law and legislation -- Kentucky Lyon County (Ky.) Democratic Party (Ky.) Key Legislation: Right to work law Term/District: House, (1976-1989; 1995-2007), 6th district Leadership Position(s): Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Labor Counties in District: Anderson County (Ky.) ; Bourbon County (Ky.) ; Boyle County (Ky.) ; Clark County (Ky.) ; Estill County (Ky.) ; Fayette County (Ky.) ; Franklin County (Ky.) ; Garrard County (Ky.) ; Jessamine County (Ky.) ; Lincoln County (Ky.) ; Madison County (Ky.) ; Mercer County (Ky.) ; Montgomery County (Ky.) ; Powell County (Ky.) ; Scott County (Ky.) ; Woodford County (Ky.) J.R. Gray; interviewee Catherine Herdman; interviewer 2006OH159_LEG145_Gray 1:|24(6)|45(10)|57(9)|82(11)|123(7)|140(5)|173(5)|202(2)|233(2)|253(11)|298(4)|326(13)|363(2)|386(5)|409(4)|449(8)|477(1)|514(2)|544(5)|583(1)|602(2)|636(4)|667(12)|689(3)|720(4)|742(11)|768(14)|794(1)|818(9)|848(2)|869(6)|898(2)|925(4)|956(2)|989(1)|1024(1)|1048(2)|1087(7)|1108(12)|1143(8)|1184(10)|1228(12)|1267(5)|1288(11)|1327(12)|1370(3)|1396(7)|1436(9)|1472(3)|1533(7)|1574(3)|1601(8)|1646(5)|1679(5)|1705(1)|1734(1)|1773(7)|1794(1)|1827(2)|1857(7)|1883(10)|1908(9)|1948(1)|1963(2)|1990(4)|2023(5)|2060(4)|2076(8)|2097(3)|2114(3)|2152(4)|2190(12)|2211(9)|2240(7)|2268(12)|2294(8)|2315(2)|2326(11)|2349(12)|2383(1)|2419(4)|2433(7)|2467(2)|2487(14)|2512(11)|2545(9)|2567(7)|2590(10)|2615(2) audiotrans Legit interview HERDMAN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with current State Representative J.R. Gray, who represents Marshall, Lyon, and partially McCracken counties from the Sixth District, 1975 to 1988 and 1995 to present. The interview was conducted by Catherine Herdman for the University Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on August twenty- second in the office of Mr. Gray in Frankfort. Thank you, Mr. Gray, for-- GRAY: --you're quite welcomed-- HERDMAN: --talking with us(??) today-- GRAY: --quite welcomed. HERDMAN: Um, let's just start at the beginning. Uh, tell me where you were born and about your parents. GRAY: Uh, 7/17/1938, near Eddyville, Kentucky in Lyon County. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, my parents were, uh, farmers. Grew up on a farm there in, uh, rural Lyon County. And, uh, attended a single-room country school the first six years of my school. I attended a small, one-room country church as well in Bethany(??)-- HERDMAN: --what denomination, what just? GRAY: Baptist. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, attended junior high school at Eddyville, Kentucky, the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades is the way they had that broke up. And then I graduated from high school at, uh, Kuttawa, K-U-T-T-A-W-A, Kentucky, in Lyon County in, uh, 1956. HERDMAN: Any teachers you remember particularly or favorite subjects? GRAY: Oh yes, I remember one teacher in particular that, uh, I forget exactly what was she taught now, English, literature(??) whatever it was, but, um, my cousin and I always goofed around, and, and didn't make too good of grades. (Herdman laughs) And, uh, uh, she threatened us, uh, with failure because we, uh, failed to do a term paper or something. And, uh, she said, "Now, in order to pass the, this year and go on towards graduation that"--let's see, my cousin had to make 98, a score of 98 on the final exam, and I had to make a score of 100. So, she says, "I'm gonna have both you boys back here again next year." And, uh, the test consisted of, I think, a hundred and fifty possible, a hundred fifty questions, the study guide was a hundred fifty different subject and questions. And the test would be one hundred selected from that a hundred fifty. So, my cousin and I sat down, and we memorized every one of them backward, front, back, front, we sit up at night and everything else. And, uh, the day the test came around, she put us on opposite corners of the room, so she could watch us and make sure we didn't cheat. (Herdman laughs) And, uh, we sat down, and we, we answered all a hundred and fifty, the way it came down was that she said, "You can answer any one hundred of the hundred and fifty and that will be a perfect score." So, we did a little better than that. (Herdman laughs) We answered all one hundred and fifty. And accurately, every one of them was accurate. And, uh, she never did grade the score; she just wadded the papers up and said, "I knew you could do it." HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: So, she made a lasting impression on me with that. But, uh, that and, and the vocational agriculture teacher, uh, um, a gentleman named Mr. Stanley Deeboe, D-E-E-B-O-E, uh, he was, he made a quite an impact on my life. He was a very, very considerate individual. Very good with young people. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, uh, he was someone that, that's really outstanding. Now, my first grade teacher is the one that, I guess, that I really remember above all of them, because she was not only my first grade teacher, she was my Sunday school teacher at the Bethany Baptist Church. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, you know, we kinda intermingled in, in both circles there. And, uh, uh, she was excellent teacher and got me started in right, you know, devoted to write and read and all these things, you know, the basics and everything. So, those are the three that come to mind right quick. HERDMAN: And your parents were both farmers? GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: What did, uh, what did they farm(??)-- GRAY: --my mother did work in a factory at one time to try to supplement the family income. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: As a matter of fact, uh, if for no other reason than to earn enough money that I'd have money to buy my lunch at school with-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --cause we were poor. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I mean, poor, poor, the way we grew up. HERDMAN: What kind of farm, what was he(??) farming? GRAY: Uh, mostly raising tobacco and corn, uh, you know, different, uh, things, like that, obviously gardens, you know-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --because we prepared all of our, you know, canned-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --different vegetables and stuff like that. We raised our own hogs that we killed and preserved and everything for meat and all that. And, uh, I supplemented that with, uh, killing squirrels with a .22 rifle, different, different type of meat, you know. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, uh, yeah, they were basically farmers, and basically, uh, you know, corn and, and tobacco. HERDMAN: Do you know how far back your family has been in Kentucky? Were your grandparents around as well? GRAY: Well, it goes, uh, it goes all the way to the 1800s. Uh, I can barely remember my grandfather, and he was, I don't know what age he was when he passed away. But, uh, I was, uh, probably nine or ten years old when my grandfather Gray passed away. And he was, uh, you know, from back in the 1800s farming, and, and, uh, he also worked for the, uh, Hillman Land and Iron Company, which was, uh, a company that, uh, I guess supplied ore for the early iron industry-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in that area down there, which it is kinda rich with history. In fact, there in Lyon County is where the, uh, Bessemer process for manufacturing-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --steel was discovered, you know. The guy named William Kelly and a guy named Bessemer, uh, invented the process. And as I understand it or remember the story, uh, Mr. Bessemer left and went to England-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and patented the process and stole it away from--(Herdman laughs)--from Mr. Kelly. So, uh, yeah, my grandfather Gray was, uh, a farmer and worked for them. They also, uh, had, uh, some large, uh, as I recall, discussions from my father, uh, large, uh, timber operation, you know, where they did logging and stuff of that nature, too. HERDMAN: Okay. GRAY: And I guess made crossties for the railroad-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and everything. HERDMAN: Okay. GRAY: And my grandfather and grandmother on the other side, they, they, likewise, were farmers. Uh, my, my grandfather and -mother on the other side were Murphys, M-U-R-P-H-Y. And, uh, at one time, uh, Grandpa ----------(??) had, uh, an interest in a small community store-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in the community, as well. So, he was into retailing, as it was back in, in those days. But it was strictly a farming community that I grew up in, a small community. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Rather close-knit. HERDMAN: Did you live near other kids and families, or was it separated due to big tracts of land? GRAY: Well, no, we didn't, it was mostly small farms in the-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --area that we, uh, in fact the one that, uh, that I grew up on was, uh, as I recall, uh, I believe it was forty-five acres, is all it was. And then my parents bought another farm, some seven miles away of less, approaching a hundred acres. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: -----------(??) but, most of the farms in the community were small. Uh, yeah, there was, uh, other kids in the immediate neighborhood. Uh, I had one family that had several kids that were no more than a quarter of a mile from-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --where we lived. And then, uh, scattered throughout the community was, you know, a great number of other kids, and we get together on Sundays and play croquet and play softball, you know, uh, different things like that. And then we'd have our, uh, sometimes on Saturday nights, they'd have a community barbeque, you know, where the whole community-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --came in, and all that. So, it was a quite a, it was kind of a Confederate community, C-O-N-F-E-D-E-R-A-T-E. And I guess that goes back to the Confederate-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --Army or something. Probably the name, I'm not really sure. HERDMAN: Okay. GRAY: But, uh. HERDMAN: And what did you do after you graduated high school? GRAY: Well, immediately after high school, uh, I was not, I didn't consider myself to be college material and, and disappointed my parents by not enrolling in college. HERDMAN: What made you feel that way? GRAY: I don't know, it just wasn't anything I was interested in-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --at the time that, uh, I was, and this, not having a direction to go in mode, you know. And mostly I was wanting to get married. So, I'd--(laughs)--say that had a lot to do with it too. I guess, I figured I was gonna get married; I had to have a job. (Herdman laughs) But, uh, at any rate, uh, my, my two older sisters were schoolteachers. And my parents were determined that I was gonna be a schoolteacher as well, but I just couldn't see myself somehow going into it. So, I worked on a farm, uh, in the community, uh, for about, uh, I don't know, the first couple of months out of school. And, uh, I had some mechanical ability about me. And then I went to work in a Ford garage doing mechanic work. And worked for about three months there. And then, of course, the wages were not good enough to start a family on. So, I had some friends who, and high school buddies really, who had migrated to the South Shores of Lake Michigan and went to work in the automobile industry-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and steel industry and all these different things. So, uh, in November that year, I quit the job that I had and packed my clothes up and headed north with one of my buddies to look for a job. And-- HERDMAN: --what year was that? GRAY: That would've been, uh, that would've been in October or November of 1956. And went in on Sunday night, and, uh, I think, uh, I was working Wednesday-- HERDMAN: --wow-- GRAY: --morning, as I recall. Working in the, uh, a machine shop for a steel mill. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I went to work as a machinist helper, uh, making, I believe, a $1.96 an hour at that time. (Herdman laughs) Big wages. HERDMAN: (laughs) Yeah. GRAY: And I, you know, that's where I got my first, uh, taste of unionism was-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in the steel mills there, so. HERDMAN: What did you join the union? GRAY: Yeah. In fact, it was mandatory-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --it was a union shop. HERDMAN: Gotcha. GRAY: Plant, you know. And, uh, I, like a lot of other people, I didn't know that much about the unions, and I figured, Well, that's five dollars a month that I could have to spend otherwise--(Herdman laughs)- -if they weren't taking that out of my check. But it didn't take me long to realize that it was a good five dollars spent. HERDMAN: How did the union function then in that industry? GRAY: Well, they were quite strong. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I mean, uh, in, uh, in nineteen--well, let me back up a little bit. Uh, I eventually wound up in the apprenticeship program-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in the steel mill, and, and became a journeyman machinist. But to answer your question about strength of the union, in, uh, 1959, we had a disagreement over the terms of a contract. And we were out on strike for three months. And, of course, during that three months, rather than just sit around and do nothing, we returned turn back to Kentucky. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, you know, visited around, and all that kind of stuff, spent the summer, so to speak, uh, until the strike was settled, and then went back, went back to work then. Left there after a total of seven years. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And what brought me back home was that my journeyman machinist card, uh, enabled me to land a job in the chemical industry in mechanical maintenance, and they hired me with the idea that I would probably bid in a machinist job that had coming open in the, you know, fairly near future. But I, I never did accept that; I went-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --I kept working in mechanical maintenance, because I had the freedom to roam all over the plant. HERDMAN: Um-hm. And you came back to Kentucky to do that job, or? GRAY: Yeah, we moved back to Kentucky. We had, uh, when we moved back, our son was, uh, I got to figure out something here. He was five years old. And our daughter was five weeks old-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --as I recall. HERDMAN: When did you get married? Was it before you went, or-- GRAY: --nineteen, uh, 1956, two days after Christmas. HERDMAN: When you were in Michigan, did you meet her there, or? GRAY: Uh, Indiana. HERDMAN: Okay. GRAY: No, uh, she was my high school sweetheart. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, uh, we got married twenty-seventh of December of 1956. Uh, and, like I said, stayed there for seven years and moved back home with our two children. And I became, um, extremely in the labor movement-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --not too long after we moved into Kentucky, uh, probably, oh, it probably started within a year, or something, of my employment in the chemical industry. And I eventually became the maintenance shop steward and then became chief steward of the union. And then a fulltime position called business representative opened up. And I ran for that position and got it and took a leave of absence from the company I was working for. And I worked for twenty years then as fulltime union representative. HERDMAN: Um-hm. Is that at all, uh-- GRAY: --(coughs)--excuse me-- HERDMAN: --would you say that was your link to getting into politics? GRAY: Yeah, it definitely was because, uh, my first, uh, foray, I'd guess you'd say, into the political arena, and I forgot what year it was now, but it seemed like it had to been around '68 or '69, uh, I helped elect someone to the, uh, position of state representative in the district that I hold now. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, uh, then, uh, not, I guess it was the following year, we had a presidential race, and it was when, uh, Hubert H. Humphrey, and George Wallace, and somebody else squared off in the primary, it seems like it was a three-way-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --primary. And, um, of course, George Wallace was not considered to be the most pro-labor person in the world. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And Hubert Humphrey was. And I forget, like I said, the third one, I don't remember who it was now, but, uh, we, a group of us union folks got together, and we decided to start working hard for the primary for Hubert Humphrey. And, uh, that was my first two, you know, entrances into politics. I had no earthly idea, no plans, or anything else to ever run for a political office-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --myself. HERDMAN: And it was not in your family or do you remember growing up in-- GRAY: --I don't-- HERDMAN: --a political ---------(??)-- GRAY: --I don't recall anyone in my family ever being in a political-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --situation. My, my earliest memory really of, uh, anyone who ever ran for a public office was another gentleman who held the Sixth District House seat, uh, and was speaker of the House on three occasions. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I remember him coming to the tobacco fields when I was a kid working and campaigning for the office. HERDMAN: I was wondering about, when you said they had the, like, barbeque picnics and stuff, did those-- GRAY: --um-hm-- HERDMAN: --ever have political speakers, or? GRAY: If they did, I don't recall. HERDMAN: Um-hm. You weren't paying attention. (laughs) GRAY: No, it was, it was something that at the time that, uh, I wasn't interested in; I was interested in my next bicycle, or getting one prepared that I, repaired that I had torn up, or something like that. Um, then in 1975 was when there was a vacancy in the House District Six position. And, um-- HERDMAN: --how'd you come to run? Did someone ask you, or just? GRAY: Well, when, um, when the one that stepped down that was holding it, when he told me he was stepping down, I said, "Well, who do you think, uh, we might get to take your place?" And he looked at me, and he said, "I think you"-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --"could run a good race." HERDMAN: Now, how did you know him? Through the union connections-- GRAY: --uh, his, um, his wife was one of my, uh, graduating class-- HERDMAN: --so it was a personal thing(??)-- GRAY: --in high school-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in '56, and, uh, he was a local attorney, gotten his law degree, and everything, at that time. And, uh, he had come to the labor movement. I mean, even though I knew him, I didn't know him well, but he had come to the labor movement asking for support. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And through sitting down, and, and, uh, asking certain questions about his position on labor issues, we decided to support him-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and that's how I got to know him. HERDMAN: Okay. How-- GRAY: --so, then I ran and succeeded him. Uh, in fact, what's ironic about it is the former speaker of the House when this one stepped down in 1975, wasn't gonna run again, the former speaker of the House filed his papers to make a comeback. So, that's who I had to run against-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --was a nine-term speaker of the House-- HERDMAN: --wow-- GRAY: --who had been out for--well, he was three-term speaker of the House, served nine terms, and had been out for a period of, what, six years, or whatever-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --it was. And that's when I ran. HERDMAN: And what was his name? GRAY: His name was Shelby McCallum. M-C-C-A-L-L-U-M. Uh, he was, uh, owner of a radio station there in Benton, Kentucky, where I live now, and which is still in operation, uh, it's under different ownership. But WCBL Radio-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in Benton. Started out as an AM station and eventually wound up with FM station and it's kind of the oldies station now. HERDMAN: Um-hm. Did, um, how did you run the campaign? Was there radio, and, uh, television, or newspaper coverage, or was it a door-to-door sort of thing? GRAY: It was a mixture of all those things. Uh, no T.V. because, uh, T.V. wasn't, I guess you'd say, that well used back in those days, you know, for, uh, political campaigns that, uh, I guess it was in its infancy, so to speak. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, I ran primarily, uh, radio advertising, uh, newspaper advertising, uh, word-of-mouth, door-to-door. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, these types of things. Uh, and, and in trying network, uh, what I did was I, since I was in the position with the union that I was is I tried to use those connections-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --to get those people out working for me, which worked quite well, they did. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And worked harder than I, you know, won by a decisive majority, as I recall. There was four of us in the race. HERDMAN: Four in the primary? GRAY: Yeah. And I came out; there was nobody in the general-- HERDMAN: --you had to run against, right-- GRAY: --election. So, uh, I knew that the former speaker of the House was the one I had to-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --beat if I was going to win the seat, you know. HERDMAN: What were the issues that your constituents were concerned about in 1975? GRAY: Basically about the same things that they are now: uh, being able to work for a living wage, household-sustaining job. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Um, health care, I don't guess was as big of a consideration back then, because health care insurance was much cheaper-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --obviously than it is today. HERDMAN: You've seen that issue become more important over time. GRAY: Yeah. Every since then, um, taxes, obviously, was a consideration. Uh, I recall one bill, in particular, that I introduced, uh, the second session, I guess, that I was here. Utility rates, electrical rates were going out the roof at the time that I went in. And, of course, as a state legislator, we could do nothing about those rates. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, nothing of any substance. And at that time we were paying a 5 percent sales tax on all utilities. And I came up with this brainstorm that we would, uh, give a, uh, a family units a break by taking the sales off utilities for all residential users, you know. And it kinda got pooh-poohed down the drain--(Herdman laughs)--said it was gonna cost, uh, if I recall correctly, it was going to cost thirty million dollars per year out of state treasury to do that, which I thought sounded reasonable, you know-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --thing to do. And I couldn't get it through, but lo and behold, uh, the lieutenant governor at that time was Thelma Stovall. And shortly--well, no, it wasn't shortly after; we got out of the session in April. And I believe it was after October or November, when Governor Carroll left the state for something else, she exercised her option to call a special session to remove the sales tax from-- HERDMAN: --wow-- GRAY: --residential utilities. So--(laughs)--I got my way after all-- HERDMAN: --yeah-- GRAY: --on that one, but it was a, it was a big issue back then. Uh, uh, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, minimum wage-- HERDMAN: --hm-- GRAY: --all those things were issues back then, the same they-- HERDMAN: --job-related-- GRAY: --yeah, same as they are today. And, of course, job creation, uh, economic development, uh, even though we have more manufacturing jobs by far, it seemed back then, than what we do today, it was still a, uh, issue back then to try to bring in more-- HERDMAN: --people generally wanted you to bring in-- GRAY: --more and better jobs. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know. HERDMAN: Were there incentives to do that, or how did you go about economic development at that time? GRAY: You know, I don't really recall what our tools were. I think it probably we did have some incentives, uh, from a tax standpoint-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --back then, uh, and I, I don't recall what they were. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: But it just seemed like we did have some. But mostly just hard work, as we call it, grunt work. HERDMAN: (laughs) Yeah. GRAY: Uh, you know, going out there and, and making a pitch to those people who were wanting to locate industry and bring them in. The one thing in back in those days that we had going in our favor was the fact that, uh, you know, uh, electricity was cheap-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --for commercial customers, because of the power being generated by Tennessee Valley Authority. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: It was cheap by comparison with the rest of the nation; let me say it that way, because it, uh, it wasn't considered cheap at that time either. But, uh, we still maintained the cheapest rates in the nation, I think. HERDMAN: Did you ever run into resistance from industry to, uh, the strong union presence? GRAY: Not directly. Uh, we had some, uh, organized and/or unorganized plants in the area. And, uh, through my work in the, uh, labor management community, uh, I would occasionally bump into someone from a non-union facility, and, uh, we would get a conversation going, and they wouldn't know I was from labor until somewhere down in the conversation, you know. And they'd say, "Oh my gosh, I shouldn't be talking to you. Probably over trying to organize my employees tomorrow." And my favorite reaction to that was, "Look, if you pay your employees the maximum you can afford to pay them, and you provide them with safe working condition, and you provide them with, you know, healthy working conditions, and all these things, and you provide them with a good benefit package, I couldn't pay those people to join the union." HERDMAN: Um-hm. Yeah. GRAY: So, uh, that was about the biggest thing we'd run into. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, we had, uh, the reputation in the Paducah area as having a bad labor management climate for a great number of years. And that, of course, was an impediment to some degree-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in bringing new industry in. But we worked at that by forming a labor management committee and, and trying to get people to learn how to work together. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And work smarter, not harder. Uh, learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. And to try to work out the problems between labor and management short of having either illegal work stoppages or legal work stoppages. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And made a lot of progress with it. In fact, uh, Governor Carroll was in at that time--(coughs)--excuse me--I can't, I hate to keep doing that, but my sinuses are tearing me up(??). HERDMAN: Oh, that's fine. GRAY: Um, through what we did in the Paducah area, which is where Governor Carroll came from, uh, he looked at that situation, and he set up what, uh, we passed in 1980 session, I believe, setting up a statewide governed--uh, I got to get the term for it here--a statewide labor/management advisory council. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And that was to be a part of its function was to try to help figure out ways that labor and management could agree-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --without, you know, having the work stoppages and all. And that eventually then grew into the annual labor/management classic, that's held at Kentucky Dam each year in September, where labor and management from all over comes together, and golf games and educational seminars. Uh, even hold our labor and industry committee meetings there each year. HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: You know, to get reports on unemployment insurance, workers' comp, or whatever. That's been quite, uh, quite success, and I think there's been--oh, gosh, it seems to me like I heard someone say there's been at least a dozen other states that had, uh, looked at what we've done and set up programs similar-- HERDMAN: --that's great-- GRAY: --to what we have. HERDMAN: Let's talk about that, those first, uh, few sessions, between '75 and '88. What was your expectations coming in? GRAY: Well, like, um, all other freshman legislators, I was convinced that I was going to come in and turn the world around. (Herdman laughs) Everybody was gonna agree with me, and then it's gonna be one happy victory, and I was gonna go back home a hero. (both laugh) But-- HERDMAN: --and did it work that way? GRAY: It didn't hardly work out that way. I found that, uh, uh, lobbying your colleagues, uh, if you want to use that expression, uh, is extremely hard work to get them to see eye-to-eye with what you're attempting to do. Getting them to understand, you know, what you're-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --attempting to do and why you're attempting to do it. Uh, one thing that I have always had as a goal and I maintain it as a goal today and that is for public employee collective bargaining rights. I was an early advocate for that and have supported it continuously since that time, but obviously we've not gotten that put into-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --the, into the law yet. But, uh, it's a, it's a big power persuasion, you know. And, uh. HERDMAN: Do you find it to a lot of tradeoffs, I mean, support for support, was it like that in '75? GRAY: Well, I guess, uh, I guess you could say that, uh, it was that way in, in the early days. Because I came in with the bargaining background that I had-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and the art of making compromises, uh, I found myself looking at the people from eastern Kentucky, for example, if they were trying to get something in the way of coal mine safety-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --or whatever, that I found myself being sympathetic with those people, and helping them on their issues, and then I found that in turn, by my having showed an interest and consideration of their issues, and when I came up with an issue, that they responded in kind, you know. So, uh, you could call it a compromise-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --I guess if you wanted to. Uh, uh. HERDMAN: How, that brings up an interesting question about regions. Did you find, uh, voting blocs regionally? Did eastern Kentucky tend to vote together, or the Louisville caucus, or who, who was, uh? GRAY: You find that mostly, uh, in those days, uh, I think you'd have to describe at being the urban versus rural-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --you know. And I found so much, uh, similarity between east, far eastern Kentucky and far western Kentucky, because, uh, number one, there was a good work ethic-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --on the part of both groups, you know. And, uh, we shared the same problem was we were so far removed from the State Capitol, you know, that sometimes it seemed like that there was not ample consideration for our areas. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, by working together to benefit the east, and benefit the west, and those in between, it seemed like we were able to accomplish more and get more consideration of the rural areas-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --than what we'd been able to do before. HERDMAN: That's a good point. What committees did you serve on early on or in that first segment that you served? GRAY: Oh, the first term, as I recall, I was on state government committee. I was on health and welfare. And I was on labor and industry. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, uh, since that time, I guess that I have served on virtually every committee here with the exception of the judiciary committee and there's one other--oh, appropriations and revenue. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, I have served on some subcommittees of appropriations and revenue but not on the, not on the full committee, advisory committees, or whatever they call them. But other than that, other than those two, as far as I know, I have served on every committee that we have with an exception of some that may have been created relatively new. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Like military affairs. Excuse me. That's a good example of a new one. HERDMAN: What do you think about the committee system from that point of view since you've been on so many? Does it work? GRAY: At first, I had not a great deal of respect for the committee system, uh, primarily because I didn't know what the purpose was, and so forth. But after having served a few years, a few terms, I became to value the committee system more and more. Because, uh, in working with the majority leadership, which I was with, um, the committee system worked to filter out bills that maybe we didn't necessarily-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --need to have considered. Uh, by the same token, it, it did filter out some that I felt should be considered, but I thought that was a, a meaningful compromise-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --to lose a few because of that in order to be able to keep back a lot of stuff that, you know, maybe shouldn't be brought up for votes. But, uh, I'm a strong supporter of the committee system at this time-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --because, um, my way of example, I chair the House labor and industry committee and have for, I'm gonna guess, somewhere seventeen or nineteen of the twenty-five years that I've been in. And we have gone out in the state on particular issues, uh, like black lung-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --is one of them. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: And we held hearings across the state. Well, maybe we did it under the broad context of workers' compensation, not, maybe not just black lung only. Uh, we held hearings in west Kentucky, uh, Louisville, northern Kentucky. Um, I think we had on in central Kentucky too, if I remember--yeah, here in Frankfort-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --which would've been central. Uh, we held hearings down in eastern Kentucky, right where the coalmines and everything are. Uh, Pikeville, and then down to Benham-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --you know, in, uh, Harlan-- HERDMAN: --Harlan, yeah. GRAY: And they were quite education and I think very beneficial to the committee and I think they give the committee a valuable insight as to what the problems were in the mines. And the problems, not only with black lung, but from actual industry--injury. (Herdman laughs) You know, due to the on-site conditions, you know, uh, whether it be, uh, uh, a ceiling falling in-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --the mine and hurting someone or killing them and all that. One of the lasting impressions that I had, uh, was the first session I was here. And I believe it was Scotia was the name of the coal company. There was a disaster there and a number of people that were killed-- HERDMAN: --I remember that one-- GRAY: --in a mine disaster and I remember a state representative from that area named Glenn Freeman, who was sitting on the back row of the chamber, I never will forget. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Sitting on the back row on the right hand side of the chamber when that news was announced about that disaster. And I remember him crying. HERDMAN: Hm. GRAY: And, uh, made a lasting impression. HERDMAN: Yeah, yeah, that's, that's an important issue for Kentucky-- GRAY: --oh yeah. HERDMAN: The, uh, your length of service, I think, gives you a unique opportunity to talk about change over time. And there's a couple major issues for the General Assembly over time. Um, one of them I want to talk about is the role of lobbyists. GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: Um, early on, some of the other interviews I've done have indicated that, uh, lobbyists did play a very important part early on with information-- GRAY: --um-hm-- HERDMAN: --before the LRC and that sort of thing. And then, of course, it changed over time. GRAY: Yeah. HERDMAN: And everyone's aware of what happened there. Um, what is your impression of how the role of lobbyists has changed, and the pluses and minuses of those changes? GRAY: Well, my first impression of lobbyists was not good. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Um, my idea of a lobbyist when I first came here was somebody walking around with a briefcase of money, if you voted in the right manner, then you might get some of that money for your campaign, you know. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I guess you can say some of that's, to a limited degree, is true today, you know, because, uh, all these different companies have their political action committees, and if you've been-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --you know, a favorable ear, or at least an open ear, that they do contribute to the campaigns. But, uh, I did not realize, uh, early on, uh, how useful a tool that the lobbyists were. And I guess that probably you didn't realize it fully until the six years that I was out. Because I worked as a lobbyist-- HERDMAN: --hm-- GRAY: --during those six years. HERDMAN: For the union, or? GRAY: Well, I set up my own consulting firm, and, uh, I did work for a number of different, uh, entities, you know. Uh, one that I had the entire that I was lobbying was the Kentucky Jailers Association. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I also did work for the property valuation administrators, the, uh, sheriffs association. Uh, I did, uh, I did research for a number of other groups, too, you know. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: They wanted, uh, whatever their interest was, if they wanted somebody just to track legislation-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --on their subject matter. And then keep them appraised of-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --where any bills were. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: In that line, I did a lot of that as well. But, uh, I learned, even before that I started to learn quite well that, uh, those lobbyists are really a very, very function of the whole legislative process. And I say that in light of the fact that when you consider that we look at somewhere around two thousand plus pieces of legislation in a session. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: There's absolutely no way that an individual legislator can sit down and read those bills and determine everything that's in them. If it's something to do with labor, then labor and management both are going to-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --analyze those bills thoroughly and be in a position to tell you what the legislation will do. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And that's why I say they're a valuable resource, you know, because no matter if it's, uh, what industry you might want to pick, retail industry, for example, they can tell how any piece of legislation is going to affect their industry at all. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, and the good lobbyists are, it's absolutely no way we can do without them in the system. Now, on the other hand, uh, there have been some lobbyists from time to time, and I can't even recall a specific example, but they would be less than honest-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in order to try to, uh, gain their point, so to speak, you know. But once it's learned that there're certain people who will mislead you-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --tell you untrue things, uh, they're pretty much done for-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --around here. HERDMAN: Word travels-- GRAY: --yeah-- HERDMAN: --as far as their reputation. GRAY: Their reputation is shot-- HERDMAN: --that's an interesting point-- GRAY: --and they may have as well not come back. So, uh, yes, we've got probably three times as many lobbyists as we have legislators, I guess--(laughs)--since the last I looked. HERDMAN: At least, I think. (laughs) GRAY: At least, I think. (both laugh) But, uh, they offer a valuable function. And I never forget, one of the first lobbyists that I met, and I'm ashamed to say this, but I don't if he's still living or not, but his name was Roy Strange, and he, uh, was a lobbyist for the Chevron Oil Company. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I had been traveling around over the country some with conferences and different things, and I'd seen these logo signs out on the interstate, you know, for gas stations, uh, food, uh, lodging, and all that. And I said, "Hm, we need those in Kentucky." So, without him having any knowledge of it, or me having any knowledge at the time, he even had an interest in it, I went and got a bill drafted to pass logo signs bills-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --for the state of Kentucky. And he picked up on it immediately, you know, and, and came and talked to me about it. And, uh, Roy was a very, very highly respected lobbyist. Uh, he was the kind of the lobbyist that you ask him a question about the bill, he was gonna tell you the absolute truth about it, even if he knew that in telling the truth about what he did, it was going to hurt his position, he'd still you the truth about, you know. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And that's where I gained so much respect for him, you know. And then, of course, uh, he was a great ally in helping to pass that, that logo sign bill, which I had the pleasure of putting the first, helping install the first one, is put up down there at Paducah. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And that's Exit 16 on I-24. (both laugh) So, I remember it well. (Herdman laughs) But I consider that to be a quite a victory, and so did our, uh, our business places located-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --along the interstate system, you know, they, they consider that to be a quite a victory, and it did help them tremendously. HERDMAN: What about the exchange, I mean, what ended up happening, of course, with the scandal later on, had to do with the exchange of money, um, I've heard a lot of stories, doing these interviews, as far as the exchange of food, and drinks, and that most of that went on outside of the Capitol area-- GRAY: --you know-- HERDMAN: --or at night in the hotels, or whatever-- GRAY: --well, it was-- HERDMAN: --what's your impression of that situation? GRAY: It was not at all uncommon that if you went out somewhere, two, three, or four legislators, uh, at night to have dinner, um, someone would pick up the tab-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --for the dinner, and, and you, and you didn't always know who did it. HERDMAN: One of my interviewees said it was almost impossible to pay for your own meal at one point. GRAY: That's true, yeah, that's true. But I'll have to say in all honestly, and, of course, you had some dishonest people anywhere that you go, uh, those people did not try to call in a debt-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --or anything as a result-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --of having done it. HERDMAN: Um-hm. That's an important point. GRAY: Um, you may know who, sometimes you'd know who did it and sometimes you wouldn't. They, some of them just soon remain anonymous-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --you know, this type of thing. And, uh, there might be a table of four or five lobbyists sitting over by themselves, you know, and the answer you'd get is, "Well, one fellow's table over there bought it." (both laugh) About the extent of the language(??)-- HERDMAN: --not know which one(??)-- GRAY: --you'd get on it. But-- HERDMAN: --what about the current changes? Do you feel that it was appropriate with the ethics legislation? Did it go too far? GRAY: I think that if we had, uh, probably become too loose in, uh, what we did and maybe there was a little bit too tight-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --of an association there, at times, you know, with some of the lobbyists and the, and the legislators. Um, I think the No Cup of Coffee rule is probably overkill. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: In my estimation-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --because I told, I told a person one time when they asked about a lobbyist, uh, buying a meal, drinks, or whatever, I said, "The way I got that figured is this: if I'm not strong enough as a legislator to sit down with a lobbyist, eat his steak, and drink his whiskey, and then turn around and vote against him if I know he's wrong, then I don't need to be here. HERDMAN: Um-hm, sure. GRAY: Just that-- HERDMAN: --absolutely-- GRAY: --short and simple, you know. HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: Now, maybe other people, you know, aren't that-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --uh, as strong to resist that as I was. HERDMAN: Or felt obligated in some way-- GRAY: --yeah-- HERDMAN: --that's, you know, you have to go along with that, so. GRAY: But I never, I never obligated at all, because of a, a meal that was furnished or anything like that-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --I never felt obligated at all to go along with a lobbyist-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --I, I, I tried to, uh, judge things on their merits totally. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, and go from there. HERDMAN: Sure. The other, um, major theme of Kentucky politics that's changed during the time you've been in is the question of legislative independence. GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: Um, tell me a little bit about the governors you served under and what you experienced with that change, uh, with the governors picking legislators as compared to electing them. GRAY: Well, I came in under Governor Carroll. Uh, he was lieutenant governor when Senator Ford was elected senator. He was governor at that time. And, of course, when he took office as United States senator, uh, Governor Carroll was immediately-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --elevated to the position of governor. And I guess that happened in 1974, whenever(??) it was. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: But at any rate, uh, Governor Carroll was running for a full term as governor at the same time I ran for the House. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: The first time. And course was elected. Now, he's been in some ways by some folks described as the Imperial Governor-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --I'd guess you'd say. And I will have to say that back in those days, uh, the leadership that was in power, uh, you would normally get a list of bills delivered to your desk and it was indicated on that list whether they were supported by the administration or not supported by the administration. HERDMAN: Did that mean that you needed to vote for it or not vote for it, or was that a ----------(??)-- GRAY: --it was, that was the idea that is if it was a bill that the leg- , that the, uh, uh, administration was favorable to that as a member of that party, uh, you should feel at least somewhat obligated to support it. HERDMAN: But you were also dealing with an overwhelmingly Democratic House-- GRAY: --yes-- HERDMAN: --is that correct? GRAY: --that is, that is correct-- HERDMAN: --so that would be factions within that-- GRAY: --yeah-- HERDMAN: --then. GRAY: But, uh, and I, I mean, I'm, I've always been a team player, as far, you know, being a part of the Democratic Party and everything. I tried to go along with the major goals, principles, and so forth, of it. However, um, I never hesitated, uh, even under the Imperial Governor, as, you know I indicated, I never felt particularly obligated on a given issue that I had to go along with the governor on it. And several times there'd be something that I would vote against that the governor really wanted. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I never faced any kind of retaliation or anything of that nature-- HERDMAN: --not even personally calling you into his office-- GRAY: --no-- HERDMAN: --or that sort of thing. GRAY: Uh, we would, uh, on major issues, uh, obviously the governor would call all members of the caucus in, and talk to them, and get their ideas, and their input on it. But, uh, I just wouldn't(??), a number of times when, you know, I'd just tell the governor, "Now, look, you know, I understand what you're saying. But it's just not something I can go along with and I'm gonna have to vote against it. Now, maybe next time I can help you on another issue," you know, and that's the way it worked out. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I mean, really. Probably the overwhelmingly majority of the time, I'd say probably 80 percent or better, uh, I did vote with the administration because I thought they were right. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, in what they were advocating, but I never hesitated if, uh, push became shoved, and I thought that the bill should not be voted for. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I didn't hesitate, I voted against it, and went on, and I never suffered any retaliation. HERDMAN: From anyone. GRAY: No, as a result of it. HERDMAN: Hold one second-- [Pause in recording.] HERDMAN: Okay, what about some of the other governors that you served under? GRAY: Well, I served under--let me see, I'm trying to think who succeeded, uh-- HERDMAN: --I think it was John Y. Brown, -is that right-- GRAY: --Governor Carroll, I served under John Y., I served under Martha Layne. Uh, I served under Wallace. Uh. HERDMAN: Did you notice, um, I mean, one of the major revolutions in the General Assembly, at least from a historian's perspective, is that the legislative independence where the legislature actually started electing leadership, instead of the governor choosing it. Did you, serving in that time notice a big difference? That would've been around the early eighties. I mean, was there-- GRAY: --yeah, I guess I could notice a significant difference because it, it seemed like it, uh, and, and a lot of that came under John Y.-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --really, uh, under his administration, he was, I guess, you'd say more hands-off with the respect to the legislature-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --than what some of the previous governors had been, and it gave us a chance to, I guess you'd say, mature a little bit in our own positions, and I thought(??)-- HERDMAN: --and you thought that was positive? GRAY: I thought it was positive. Uh, however, um, on legislative independence, and my theory has always been on that, that there's no way that you have legislative independence unless you have independent legislators. HERDMAN: Um-hm, sure. GRAY: And, uh, I've always been independent since I've been here. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, in some ways it was very little effect on me, you know, uh, one way or the other. HERDMAN: What is your other job? What did you do in addition to being a representative now? GRAY: Well, actually-- HERDMAN: --or what have you done-- GRAY: --I'm retired-- HERDMAN: --um-hm. GRAY: Uh, I'm a retired union representative; I'm a retired machinist-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --I'm a retired public relations consultant, all those things, so-- HERDMAN: --during the eighties, did you still have an active, uh, other job-- GRAY: --yeah, my, uh, my service with the union and the legislature kinda-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --intermingled, like this, uh, let me see, uh. Nineteen seventy- five was when I was elected, I was union representative then. I left the union position in 1986. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, you know, for that time period in there, I was actively doing both jobs. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, at that time. And, uh, after I left the union job, uh, I still did some, uh, consulting work, you know, as long as it was something that didn't ran afoul of the ethics code-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --or anything like that. Uh, but, uh, in recent years, uh, well, basically since I came back in, in, uh, '95 is, I haven't had another job. HERDMAN: Um-hm. What, uh, were the circumstances that resulted in your leaving the legislature in '88? GRAY: I was defeated in a May primary. HERDMAN: Who, uh, who defeated you? GRAY: Uh, the same guy that I succeeded when I went into the office-- (laughs)-- HERDMAN: --he came back. (both laugh) GRAY: He decided that he wanted to come back. (laughs) HERDMAN: Uh-- GRAY: --and then he stepped up there again(??)-- HERDMAN: --was it, was it a friendly campaign, or-- GRAY: --excuse me-- HERDMAN: --I mean, was it friendly between you at that point? GRAY: Well-- HERDMAN: --was there tension? GRAY: There was quite a bit of tension. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, because, uh, I had, uh, the whole time he was in office, I had supported him heavily. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, obviously I was disappointed that he chose to run against me-- HERDMAN: --did he insinuate anything personal as to why he was running, did he think you weren't-- GRAY: --no, he just-- HERDMAN: --doing a good job, or? GRAY: He just wanted to be back in the legislature. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, that was about the extent of it. Uh. HERDMAN: And he had more connections, I guess, from his, uh, former-- GRAY: --well, we had-- HERDMAN: --campaigns-- GRAY: --we had a three-way race. And, uh, I think had not the third individual-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --been in the race, which took some support from me in, out of labor-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --uh, I don't think, in fact, I only lost by seventy-three votes, as I recall. HERDMAN: Wow, yeah, that's close. GRAY: So, the third person being in the race is what cost me-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --the position at that time. However, I guess I'm one of these people who look at the bottle(??), I say it's half-full, instead of half-empty. Uh, looking back on it, uh, it probably was, uh, a good thing for me, because I missed education reform-- HERDMAN: --(laughs)--right-- GRAY: --which got to be quite controversial. HERDMAN: Yes. GRAY: I missed the BOPTROT situation. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I missed Governor Jones's proposals to reform health care. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Which is still controversial today. HERDMAN: Right. GRAY: And it seemed like there was another issue or two that was really, you know, that came up during that time that I wasn't here to vote on it. I was here but I was lobbying, I was hearing a different hat. But, uh. HERDMAN: So, your record remained, uh, untouched during that period. GRAY: Yeah, that's, that's true. Uh. HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: They couldn't look back at me and say that I did, I cast a vote that ruined health care-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in Kentucky because I wasn't in office at that time. HERDMAN: Sure. Um, so, how are things different when you came back in '95? GRAY: I didn't notice a tremendous amount of difference-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --from the time that I left until I came back, because after all, I'd been here on a daily basis, uh, especially during the session-- HERDMAN: --yeah, that's true, yeah-- GRAY: --during that whole time. Um, I guess that the one thing that probably was different for me and gave me a greater appreciation for the work that the lobbyists do is having served as a lobbyist for six years, I realized then how hard that a lot of them work, you know, to get their points across and everything. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, I guess I, I attained, uh, uh, a much better appreciation of what the lobbyists do. HERDMAN: What do you think about having, uh, individual offices, and the, uh, Legislative Research Committee to help you out? Is that beneficial, or-- GRAY: --well, the Legislative Research Commission, we absolutely could not survive without because they are our support staff. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, they, if we're, uh, if we're trying to find out what's happened in another state-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in as far as a particular, well, workers' comp- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: -- ---------(??) or gun control-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --these things, uh, we could go to our staff and they know the people to contact with, uh, Council of State Government, or with the National Council of State Legislators, or any of these groups and get their information-- HERDMAN: --and in '75, you wouldn't have had that staff, right? You didn't have, uh-- GRAY: --we had-- HERDMAN: --in that capacity. GRAY: Uh, yeah, we didn't have, uh, that, that capacity nearly-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --you know, as compared to what it is today. Uh, we had staff people on every committee, yes. But I think they more or less just came out of a pool, so to speak-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --back then. In other words, they were not necessarily attached tightly for support-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --to a particular committee. HERDMAN: Okay. Um, I know you have to get going, so let me ask you a couple, uh, reflective questions. It's a little bit different because I think because you're still in office. GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: And especially running, but, um, let's talk a little bit about looking back over the time you've been in. A lot of my interviewees are no longer in the General Assembly. GRAY: Right. HERDMAN: So, that makes it a little different. What has been your, um, most satisfying accomplishment? GRAY: I guess being able to go to bed at night with a clear conscience. Knowing that I've done everything for everybody-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --that particular day that, uh, you know, I know how to do. Uh, to get into specifics, uh, I mentioned the logo sign bill. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I thought that was a great accomplishment. Uh, in 1978, or '80, along in that time period, we had, uh, I'm a strong gun advocate. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Second Amendment person. We had a great number of cities and counties across the commonwealth that were enacting different forms of gun control legislation. And by working the National Rifle Association, we came up with a plan, that's we called state preemption. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And it, by passing that legislation, we vested all the power to do with gun control, other than what the feds say-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --obviously, within the Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I thought that was a great accomplishment there. Uh, I've been able to help the working class families throughout the state with better unemployment insurance laws. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, workers' compensation laws, safety on the job. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: Healthful(??) working conditions, and all those. Uh, one that's, that's, that's real big in my mind, and it involves a conglomeration of bills that were passed over a long period of time is making our tax laws more, uh, fair to the residents. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: We have passed, and I got into one of them, you know-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --on the utilities bill, the sales tax on utilities. In the time that I have been here, we have either reduced or eliminated taxes that amount to somewhere around eight hundred million dollars per year-- HERDMAN: --wow-- GRAY: --in savings-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --to our citizens. HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: And I take great, great pride in that. There's been a few increases that I have voted for down the line. Uh, but that, that is a real biggie there. HERDMAN: In that sense, you did dodge it with KERA, because I think that was the biggest, uh, one of the biggest, uh-- GRAY: --yes-- HERDMAN: --one of the biggest tax increase in-- GRAY: --yeah, that's, that's true-- HERDMAN: --you know, that's a big tradeoff-- GRAY: --that's true-- HERDMAN: --because education was so important that. GRAY: And, and I'm not anti-tax. Uh, I know that we, if, if government is going to provide the services for people that in my estimation they are entitled to, obviously it takes a lot of tax dollars to do that. But I don't believe in collecting more taxes than we reasonably need-- HERDMAN: --um-hm, sure-- GRAY: --to meet the needs of the people out there. So, that's where I, I, I become real conservative-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --when it gets down to fiscal issues, you know. Uh, a tax that we can do without, I think we need to do without it, you know. Just that pure and simple. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: Uh, a number of them, and I will never this first session, the first bill that I ever passed through the Kentucky General Assembly was a tax elimination. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, we had a gentleman from Paducah who was a former majority floor leader, I guess, as I recall. Uh, his name was, uh, Fred Morgan. And, uh, he had this little ole idea for a bill, and he said, "If you want to introduce that thing," he said, "I'll help you pass it." Well, as a freshman-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --I was a looking for a bill to pass. (both laugh) The bill that he, uh, he, uh, handed to me was one that took the sales tax off of tombstones and other memorial--(Herdman laughs)--markers. HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: So, um, we had our ducks in a row, and the thing, I got out of committee, whatever, you know, and I was a ready for a vote on the floor of the House. And, uh, uh, Representative Morgan said to me, he said, "Now, when that bill comes up today," he said, "I'll, if you yield to me, after you say whatever you want to about the bill," he said," I'll try to add some additional comments to it. See if we can pass, so." I said, "Sure, we'll do that now." So, when the bill came up, my knees were knocking like this--(Herdman laughs)--you know, first bill I'd ever spoke on-- HERDMAN: --yeah-- GRAY: --or anything on the floor. And I said whatever, you know, it was that I had to say about it. And I said, "Now, I'd like to yield to the gentleman from McCracken Three," or whatever his district was. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: "For further comments." And I never will forget, he had this big booming voice, you know, I mean, you could hear him for three miles. And, uh, when he got his opportunity to speak, he said, "Now, ladies and gentleman, in support of the gentleman from Marshall's bill," he said, "I want to offer you these observations." He said, "It is often been said in Kentucky that we tax people from the womb to the tomb." (Herdman laughs) "I submit to you, it's about time we take it off the tomb." (both laugh) HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: And the bill passed. And it became law. So, I passed a bill my first session-- HERDMAN: --right off, yeah-- GRAY: --eliminating a tax, and I pretty much stuck with that from the time forward. HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: Uh, anytime tax that we could do without, I like to do without it. HERDMAN: Um-hm. All right, uh, you mentioned two children. Are those your only two children? GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: And what are their names and ages? GRAY: Randy is the oldest. Uh, he is, uh, forty-eight. And, uh, Teresa is five years younger than he is. So, I guess she's coming up on forty-three, here. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Right away. HERDMAN: What about grandchildren? GRAY: I have three grandchildren. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: By my daughter, my son doesn't have any children. HERDMAN: Have they stayed in Kentucky, have they moved, or? GRAY: Yeah, uh, my son, um, is a graduate of--well, my son and daughter both graduates from Murray State University. They did a little better than I did; they went to college. (Herdman laughs) Uh, my son went into, um, occupational safety and health. And, uh, he went to work for the labor department back in--well, I can't even remember now. But, uh, he was fresh out of college, had his associate degree, and was working towards his bachelors, and then, of course, eventually towards his masters and everything in it. But, uh, oh, he applied for a job as an occupational safety and health officer with the labor department. And they interviewed him and hired him right on the spot. Told him they wanted him to report to work just soon as college-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --was out that year. And that's what he's doing today. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, he's the occupational and safety-- HERDMAN: --um-hm, still working with OSHA-- GRAY: --and health, uh, compliance officer with OSHA. In fact, he's in, uh,----------(??) Illinois for two weeks right now in specialized training on something to do with OSHA. I don't know exactly what, I never get in to those details. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, with it. And, uh, my daughter, uh, with three children is divorced. And, uh, she's trying to complete all her necessary college courses, uh, over and above her bachelor's degree, uh, she was a major in, uh, she had a major in printing management and a minor in photography. And, uh, after the divorce, she obviously needs to have an income. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, she's trying to get her teacher's certificate at the present time. So she can start teaching school. HERDMAN: Did you find in, uh, and even considering with your wife as well, did you find it hard to balance a job, being a representative, and your family, especially with the distance that you had to travel? Did it require too much time, or? GRAY: At first, it was not a great time drain. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Back in the mid-seventies, it was not a great time drain because for the most part, you spent your sixty days in session, uh, the interim committee system was not in place at that time. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Um, it, you just basically got your work done in sixty days every two years. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know, when I first went in. But obviously that has all changed with the implementation of the interim committee system were we--and that's good-- HERDMAN: --and the annual sessions, right-- GRAY: --where we study the bills and go on down the line. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: The biggest drawback that I see is that the General Assembly has essentially became a fulltime position with part-time pay. HERDMAN: Um-hm. It seems to allow one of the certain, um, professions to really be-- GRAY: --that's true-- HERDMAN: --to be able to do that. GRAY: That's true. HERDMAN: You know. GRAY: And I have a great fear because of that. Uh, our forefathers envisioned a citizen legislature-- HERDMAN: --a citizen legislature-- GRAY: --where that we, not only would be permitted, but would be expected to be engaged in other employments-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --so far as making a living. But it has evolved, uh, so far from that now that it's, uh, it's unreal. HERDMAN: Do you feel the annual session is, uh, unnecessary, or, cause that's been part of that, right, now it's? GRAY: Yeah, that's part of it. Uh, I supported the annual sessions, both in the debates on the floor, and, uh, voted for it to pass, and voted for it at the polls in that constitutional amendment that we had. But it has had an adverse effect, uh, in so far as the institution of the General Assembly being able to attract and retain-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --individuals from all walks of life. Uh, because of the sixty- day and the thirty-day schedule, sixty day and even-year, uh, thirty and odd-numbered years, it makes it extremely difficult for a professional person to be able to serve, because whatever their profession is, they're having to large amounts of time from it, uh, you know, to engage in their activities here. If a person's a chiropractor-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --for example, and they have a nice clientele, busy clientele. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Then, in order to be able to serve in the legislature, they've got to out and find another chiropractor-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --maybe somebody's retired, or whatever, that will pitch in and take their caseload, you know, going. Uh, I guess a teacher could get a leave of absence-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and serve in the legislature. I'm not sure exactly what their status is now. But we've had teachers in the legislature. HERDMAN: Seems like it, there's, it's gone to, uh, one situation that I've encountered quite a bit is a family business that someone else can run. Or, uh, lawyers, because they have flexibility with, when and when they do and don't take cases. And those seemed to be, like, uh, more conducive to it, but-- GRAY: --yeah-- HERDMAN: --you know, there are others that just, it just wouldn't work for it at this point. GRAY: Well, you take a CPA, a doctor, or a chiropractor, a dentist. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Um, any number of different positions that you can, uh-- HERDMAN: --that have regular-- GRAY: -- factory worker, for example-- HERDMAN: --clientele with, right, sure, yeah. GRAY: A factory worker today, unless he has a union contract that guarantees him he can have a leave of absence to engage in political activity, uh, it would be impossible for them to serve-- HERDMAN: --um-hm, sure-- GRAY: --because number one, uh, considering the fact in '04 the average salary for a state legislator was thirty-six thousand dollars. Well, what kind of a quality of life can anyone-- HERDMAN: --sure, um-hm-- GRAY: --provide for their family, if that's all they can do? HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: For thirty-six thousand a year, it just doesn't cut it, you know. HERDMAN: Yeah. GRAY: Uh, I'm one, I'm, I'm actual one strong, of course, it comes partly from my union background because I always negotiated for higher rates of pay, better benefits-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --uh, better working conditions, better hours of employment, and everything for everyone. Well, I kinda think that rule ought to apply to General Assembly-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --as well, you know. Uh, for what we do, in my estimation, we should be highly paid. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Now, I would suggest to you that probably if you go out here and run a, say, a four hundred-person statewide poll, and you give people a category, "Do you think your legislator earns $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, $60,000, $70,000?" I would venture to say that most people would say that we fall in to the $60,000 or $70,000-- HERDMAN: --um-hm, it's higher-- GRAY: --category-- HERDMAN: --I think so too-- GRAY: --you know. So, that is, that is hurting us. And what I see happening down the road is that if we don't pay close attention to the salaries and the benefits for legislators is we'll wind up with, uh, three categories of people: you wind up with the independently wealthy, they don't have to worry about making a living; uh, you'll wind up with the--and I'm not saying anything against retirees, because I are one-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --so to speak. (both laugh) You'll wind up with retirees. HERDMAN: Um-hm, sure. GRAY: And then in the most severe cases, you'll wind up with people who either can't find a job doing anything else, or you'll find people that bounce and bump and jump around from one thing to other. And in either case, it's certainly come out, in my estimation, to benefit the people-- HERDMAN: --right-- GRAY: --of Kentucky well. So, if we're going to maintain the busy schedule we're maintain, and for the future people coming in, I think that there's gonna be to some sizeable increases in pay-- HERDMAN: --do you feel like it should become a fulltime pay, is that? GRAY: Well, it has become fulltime work. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Essentially, because constituents services, for example, and that's another thing I was going to comment on earlier about, you come sixty days, you leave, and that was it until next session. That has changed so drastically that it's unreal, because, uh, Phillip Huddleston, who worked for Legislative Research Commission for a number years, through attending a conference in another state and talking to other legislators from other states, he found out about a service that they had implemented in some state. And, uh, it was called constituent services. And that is if we have a person who is having a problem drawing unemployment insurance, drawing their workers' compensation, uh, uh, being able to qualify for disability, social security, and everything, uh, they worked on cases like that. It has been so successful, we went from two people, uh, Phil Huddleston and John Downward, I think, in the early days, uh, and I don't remember when that was setup, now. I know it's been in place for a number of years. I don't know how many people we have in constituent services now, but we have a great number of them. And they come from all different segments of state government, all different backgrounds outside as well. And they pretty well cover the waterfronts, so far as there's generally there's somebody in that constituent services' group that knows about the problems that the people are having. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, it's become known that that service is available. And you'd be surprised at the amount of hours that I spend on the telephone fielding calls, requests from constituents, which in turn then I make notes and so forth on. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Investigate somewhat into them, and then turn them over to constituent services, you know, for help there. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: So, it's, uh, it's a lot more to it anymore than just-- HERDMAN: --so you feel like it, it's a good program, but it takes a lot of time in that. GRAY: It takes a lot of time, individual legislators; it's a very, very worthwhile program. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And it's a program we need to expand even further, in my estimation, because there's still a lot of need that's not being met. And in order to do it, uh, it makes us more and more fulltime because we're the, uh, I don't know what we'd be called. We're the-- HERDMAN: --like, the initial contact-- GRAY: --the point of contact-- HERDMAN: --yeah, point person, yeah-- GRAY: --gathering basic-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --information type thing, you know. And it's unreal how many of those types of situations we'll encounter in, in a year's time, you know. HERDMAN: That's interesting. I didn't about, about constituents services. GRAY: Oh, it's, it's a great time. And, uh, it might be as simple as some single mother out there that can find a job and she's got hungry kids and trying to get them qualified for food stamps, or heating assistance-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --in the wintertime. Uh, getting them a medical card, because there's a child there has severe medical condition, if they go untreated, they're apt to die-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --or, you know, be seriously, uh, hampered for their life. Just any number of things like that. HERDMAN: Severe cases within your constituents. GRAY: Um-hm, um-hm. And, of course, each one of us had, in the House, roughly forty thousand people that we are-- HERDMAN: --shoo, yeah-- GRAY: --representing. And I mean, the odds just tell you with forty thousand that a good percentage of them-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --are going to have problems that they need assistance with-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --down the line, you know. It might be assistance to get a pothole fixed in the road, you know. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: It might be simple, you know, and we do run into a lot of those types of things, uh. HERDMAN: Okay, let me ask, um, you've kinda indicated that your political philosophy, as it were, uh, rests on integrity and being able to sleep with a clear conscience. GRAY: Um-hm. HERDMAN: Who have been your friends, mentors, um, people who helped you out early on, other people with integrity that you've experienced within the General Assembly? GRAY: Well, when I first came, they were about three of the incumbent legislators that, I guess, most of them were from my general area. Yeah, they were. And they were very quick and very eager to help me in any way that I could to became a "successful" legislator. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, one of them was Mr. Morgan and I've mentioned. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, Lloyd Clapp, who's a retired legislator, retired House member, lives down in Graves County. Uh, Representative Bruce, who is still here after forty-three years of service. Uh, and there's, there's a number of other people like that, you know. But they kind of, you know, were my mentors, so to speak, and, and help me along the line, and, and they were the kind of people that their attitude was, well, you'll probably are gonna have some bills that we can't agree with you on and can't vote for, but irrespective of that, we will help, we will tell you how to go about passing your bill. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: What you should or should not do, even though we're gonna have to vote against the bill. HERDMAN: That's great. Yeah, that's great GRAY: And that's like the lobbyist that tells you the truth-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --knowing that it may hurt his particular goal that he has or she has, you know. But those, uh, you know, that was very valuable to me starting out-- HERDMAN: --early on-- GRAY: --you know, yeah. Very, very valuable. HERDMAN: What about, um, more current? GRAY: Well, I have a, I have a great admiration for all of our committee chairs. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And our House leadership-- HERDMAN: --so you feel like the leadership is-- GRAY: --yes-- HERDMAN: --deserving and-- GRAY: --starting with the speaker going on through the, uh, majority whip in the House, all five of them. Uh, they're all excellent people. Uh, willing to serve, willing to, they're great to work with. They've been extremely good team players with me, as I hope they consider I have been to them. And the committee chairs, uh, it's a big burden. Uh, in some cases, uh, dealing with, uh, some bills, especially, uh, well, let me take the, let's take Representative Moberly. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Chairman of the appropriations and revenue committee, he has a big weight on his shoulders. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Getting that thing passed, getting it worked out, and I have to admire him to no end for what his dedication is in doing that. Uh, there's other situations. Some of them I've encountered myself. You get into some extremely controversial bills sometime and emotions run high. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Uh, in the '04 session, emotions were running extremely high in regard to the, uh, marriage amendment for the constitution. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: And, uh, uh, Representative Adrian Arnold, who's retiring after this session, is chair of that committee, and he did a tremendous job, you know, handling those things there. Uh, during the last session, uh, I guess, I can brag on myself a little bit. (Herdman laughs) I had two extremely controversial bills in our committee. And, uh, one of them-- HERDMAN: --and which committee? The labor-- GRAY: --labor and industry committee, which I chair. And, uh, of course, we work closely with our leadership in, in posting bills. And one of the main functions of the committee is to keep a good orderly flow of bills when we are putting them out of-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --committee, you know. Uh, the two controversial ones that I had in the last session was right-to-work and prevailing wage laws. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, of course, right-to-work is, uh, in my estimation, is no more than a tool of industry to try to keep the strength of unions down, so that wage levels are held down, benefits are held down, and working conditions, and all those things are held back. And with my union background, obviously, I wasn't wanting to see(??) that bill to go anywhere. So, uh, we did, uh, go ahead, and, uh, decide have hearings on it in the committee. And, uh, of course, when it was brought up and the allotted time for discussion was over, there was a motion made and seconded and passed to table the bill and put, you know, put an end to it for the session. The same thing happened on a prevailing wage law. Uh, on all public works projects, uh, the contractors are supposed to pay the, more or less, average rates, you know, in the area for doing those jobs. And we have a certain, uh, segment of society that thinks that's wrong. Even though those craftsmen are out there building those facilities are, uh, highly skilled. They don't have the best working conditions there are in the world. They may only work three, or six, or ten months out of the year. HERDMAN: Seasonal, right. GRAY: Uh, there's all kinds of, uh, weather conditions that they have to deal with, from pouring down rain to hot heat, like, we've had the last two or three months. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: To freezes, and, and everything else. And then besides that, uh, my argument is that, uh, yes, those people are making a higher wage rate. So, in turn, they're boosting the state coffers in so far as tax dollars-- HERDMAN: --sure-- GRAY: --that are paid in. And they are a major contributor in their community to the standard of living in their community. So, uh, I guess I'd say hats off to them, you know. They, they deserve everything that they can get. They, second thing about the prevailing wage law is the fact that we have had people come in from out of the country, other states, and everywhere else, that have done work on, on public works project, messed it all up, and then they had to call the union halls, and get the craftsmans, the skilled craftsman back out there to straighten up, at a much greater expense than what it would've been to done it right from beginning-- HERDMAN: --right from the first time, sure-- GRAY: --yeah. HERDMAN: Okay. GRAY: And then there's, some of their arguments they use, the opponents of prevailing wage law use is, "Well, this high school here that has so many thousand square feet was built for so and so, and here's another one over here has the same number of square feet, and it cost 30 percent more"-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --"to build it." Well, when you get to looking into the situation, you find that some of the schools superintendents, or principals, or whatever, they're trying to leave their personal mark or something on a building. And when you get to down to comparing the two facilities, except for size, they're no were alike. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Because there may be real custom features built into one. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: Uh, we saw pictures of one that, uh, two that they had compared, and one of them was a simple brick structure, all the way top to bottom; the other one had limestone inserted, you know, all the around it, and nice statue. HERDMAN: Yup. GRAY: Beautiful. I mean, nothing wrong with that. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: But there were not comparing apples to apples-- HERDMAN: --right, sure. GRAY: Yeah. HERDMAN: Okay. Um, a couple more questions and then we will be done. GRAY: All right. HERDMAN: Uh, do you have any humorous stories that you remember? Funny things that have happened, like, what you shared about the, uh, the tombstone bill, anything that stands out? GRAY: Humorous. HERDMAN: Pranks, anything like that? If nothing comes to mind, that's fine. GRAY: Well, I, uh, I recall one, uh, one occasion when we had one legislator that was clowning around quite a bit, on a, I guess, it's probably getting close to the final-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --the night of the session, or whatever. He was clowning quite a bit. And, uh, there were some folks that, uh, wrote out a note, and got it sent over to his desk, and they said, uh, "Representative so-and-so, I'm one of your constituent voters, whatever, and I have observing your actions from the gallery tonight, and I have had to the conclusion that we need a man representing us in Frankfort instead of a boy." (both laugh) HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: And upon receiving that note, uh--(laughs)--he looked the gallery over for a familiar face. And on two or three occasions, he looked it over for a familiar face. And upon not finding any, he, uh, questioned how that the note wound up on his desk. And the, the answer to it was that, uh, uh, someone had asked that that note be passed on and put on his desk. And, uh, so, upon hearing that, uh, he goes into the gallery, and he makes two or three searches--(Herdman laughs)--looking for a familiar face, and couldn't find one. HERDMAN: That's great. GRAY: So, it had him all, all, all torn up. And I thought that was great. HERDMAN: Yeah, that's a pretty good one. I'd say there at the end, uh, the, the, you need tension release every now and then. GRAY: Yeah, that's true. HERDMAN: I, I talked to someone that worked on the seatbelt bill, and he said he walked in one day to find three or four seatbelts across his chair. GRAY: Oh yeah. HERDMAN: All waiting for him when he came in, yeah. (both laugh) That was in the Senate though. GRAY: Yeah. HERDMAN: Okay, um, last question, um, any advice to someone considering going into politics? Would you advise going into politics, and if so, what would be your, uh, your pearls of wisdom? GRAY: Well, you know, it's a tough job. Somebody's got to do it. Um, it's not all drudgery; it's not all glam light. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I think that probably knowing what I know about the General Assembly today, and the fact that is a fulltime job for part-time pay-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and what you have to go through with in the way of campaign, so far as people, on the one hand, drastically distorting what you have done or have tried to do, uh, all the way to the point of out-and-out lying, you know, about what you've done, uh, having to endure that, uh, if I had to make the same decision again today that I made in 1975, based upon what knowledge I have attained while being there, I don't know that I'd be running. (laughs) HERDMAN: Yep. GRAY: But then I quickly when I, when I say that, I think, Well, you know, who is there out there that I would trust to represent me like I'm going to represent the people. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And I take a lot of pride in, uh, number one, knowing the interest of the people, and number two, having the, uh, for a lack of a better term, the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what I think and what I hear from them is going to be in their best interest. HERDMAN: Yep. GRAY: But, uh, we need to encourage our young people to come along and take an interest in their political arena, because, uh, what I said about the, uh, uh, tombstone bill, it's very true about politics in general; you're controlled by politics from even before you're born-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --to--well, the smoking ban, there's, there's an example of it. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: I mean, that's, you know, supposed to be protect unborn from harmful things and everything. But you're controlled from the womb to the tomb-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --by someone's political decisions. And I certainly don't like the way a lot of things have gone in our country in the last few years. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And if we don't have people that are willing to stand up and be counted and speak out for the masses out there who don't often have a voice, then I think we're doom for failure then. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: But, uh, no, I probably, I probably not run. (both laugh) You know, having thought about that, but, uh, I guess by the same token, uh, I would probably look around, say, "Look, somebody's got to do it, you know." HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: "Why not me?" HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: And I, I take a lot of pride. If a person has a problem, if their on hard luck, some single mother with two or three children, and they're having hard luck, and can't find a job, and they're needing some help, I take great pride in being able to try to help them find something to help them, you know. HERDMAN: That actually improves their day-to-day, real-- GRAY: --yeah-- HERDMAN: --real life. GRAY: Or some, some widow lady, you know, that's on a limited income, uh, and she needs, uh, she can't afford drugs, then knowing that some of our large pharmaceutical companies have certain indigent programs. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: Being able to hook that person up with that right person from that pharmaceutical industry to get them the drugs that they have to have to survive. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, you know, we got many, many people out there that are willing to make choices between eating or taking their medications, or heating their homes and taking their medications, or putting gasoline in their vehicle. (Herdman laughs) That's gotten totally out of hand. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: You know. I often make a statement that I, I, I think it's true and it's because of the way the system works. A lady asked me in a, well, after I had made comments on time that at a meeting. I was a speaker on a, on a certain issue. This one little lady, you know, sitting in the very back, there's one in every crowd, I guess. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: She'd sit there, I mean, the whole time, and just as quiet as a mouse. And, uh, at the end, she asked a question. And the question essentially was, "Why is it that we can't do so-and-so correct the situation?" And I said, "Lady, don't think I'm trying to be smart with you or give you a short answer," but I said, "It's because of the fact that you have best politicians that money can buy." And it's true. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: It's, uh, campaign is the mother's milk-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --of politics. HERDMAN: Sure. GRAY: And, uh, if the wrong people run and they're influenced by that money, then it's a sad situation for all of us then. HERDMAN: Sure. Anything else that you'd like to add? GRAY: No, other than, uh, you know, I, I, I said sometimes in looking at the situation, uh, I forget now, and you can check my figures on it, uh, through NCSL, or Council of State Government, or whatever, but I think there's 7400-some state legislators nationwide. So, to be one of that elite group-- HERDMAN: --um-hm-- GRAY: --and have spent twenty-five years, going for twenty-seven now-- HERDMAN: --yep-- GRAY: --to have spent twenty-five years as a part of that elite group, being able to try to represent the people in my district and advance their livelihood, their wellbeing, meet their needs, and so forth, uh, to me that's a big honor. HERDMAN: Um-hm. GRAY: And, uh, it's just something that I'll never forget. HERDMAN: Sure. Well, thank you, Mr. Gray. And, uh, good luck in the fall. GRAY: No, you're quite, quite welcome. [End of interview.] Gray (House, 1976-1989; 1995-2007, 6th district; Democrat) grew up on a rural farm in Lyon County, Kentucky. In the mid-fifties, Gray worked as a machinist in the steels mills of northern Michigan, and later in the mid-sixties, in mechanical maintenance in the chemical industry of southeast Kentucky. In this interview, Gray describes early years as a worker, chief steward, and business representative of the union. As chairperson of the House labor and industry committee, Gray explains the most memorable issues, including collective bargaining, labor/management advisory work, black lung, right-to-work, and prevailing wage. He also addresses the benefits of the lobbying body and the impact of BOPTROT on the politic and the General Assembly. In addition, Gray discusses significant changes to the House of Representatives, including the impact of the Legislative Research Commission. He points out the difficulties of legislative work, such as the limitations of time, pay, and annual sessions. Gray also shares his memories of influential contemporaries, including Glenn Freeman, Lloyd Clapp, Fred Morgan, Adrian Arnold, and Jim Bruce. insert here