Capitol Update: Rep. Xu says policies to reverse climate change must be priority

Rep. Rui Xu

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Tom Cox, Rep. Rui Xu and Sen. John Skubal are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Xu’s filing:

I have always been a fervent believer that to truly know how a politician is going to legislate or vote, you need to know who they are as a person and the experiences that shaped them. As a newcomer to the world of politics, I think it’s important to let you know who I am so you have context for what I am trying to do as the legislative session progresses.

I was born in 1989 in Basel, Switzerland to Chinese PhD students. Because of China’s One Child Policy at the time and the fact that I already had an older sister back in China, my parents realized that their opportunities for career growth were going to be far greater in the United States than they would be in their home country. (For more context on my parents’ journey and how that has impacted my political worldview, check out this Facebook post).

We immigrated here when I was 2 years old, and I primarily grew up in Rolla, Missouri, where I naturalized to be a US Citizen in the 7th grade. I majored in Economics at the University of Southern California, and my first job out of school was as a performance analyst (think Jonah Hill in Moneyball) with Sporting KC. My most recent job, which I decided to leave to focus on the legislature, was as a marketing analyst with Children International.

While there are a bevy of important short-term priorities for the upcoming session, such as school funding, Medicaid expansion, and fixing the issues with DCF, I believe there needs to be an overarching long-term priority of examining climate and energy policy with the goal of reversing global warming. All of the other issues we debate become insignificant if we can’t solve this one, and I strongly believe that every single policy – whether at the local, county, state, or federal level – needs to have an eye towards being part of the solution.

A lot of the rhetoric around climate change tends to be fairly apocalyptic, and believe me, I understand the magnitude of the issue, but the optimistic thing is that we, as a country, are already doing a lot of highest impact solutions; we just need to scale them!

  • The 2014 legislature passed the Kansas Energy Efficiency Investment Act, which allowed for rebates for things like Nest thermostats, insulation, and windows, but regulators have thus far declined to implement many of the policies proposed by the utility companies.
  • Food waste accounts for between 19 to 29 percent of dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions, and we as a country waste up to 40% of our food. Several states have already put food recycling programs into place which can dramatically cut waste at low cost.
  • Many farms already plant cover crops which help with water retention and soil nutrition or use no-till approaches that reduce erosion, and we need to continue to incentivize farmers to implement these beneficial practices. Recently, New York introduced a carbon farming tax credit to encourage farmers to enact these practices.

I’m looking forward to advancing these ideas within the legislature, but we should always remember that there are things we can do on a personal level to address climate change and the environment as well. We can always walk more, eat less meat, and compost our leftover food. If you want to go even further, you can use rain barrels or plant rain gardens to help with our water quality.

If you have any other ideas, or have other legislative issues, I always appreciate feedback from my constituents. You can reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, email, or even call or text me at 913.535.8691. As always, thank you for giving me the honor of representing you!