Capitol Update: Rep. Rui Xu on supporting agriculture bills, marijuana legalization

In this week's Capitol Update column Rep. Rui Xu talks about supporting the Healthy Soils Fund, Right to Repair legislation, and efforts to legalize marijuana in Kansas. Above Rep. Xu in a file photo. 

Each week, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Rui Xu, Rep. Linda Featherston and Sen. Cindy Holscher are scheduled to send updates this week.

Below is the submission from Democratic State Rep. Rui Xu, who represents District 25.

This upcoming Friday, March 19th, I’m going to be heading out to the Hays, KS area to appear on their Smoky Hills PBS show. Since Eber Phelps lost in 2018, no Democrat represents the area and they reached out to me since I’m Ranking Democrat on the House Financial Institutions & Rural Development Committee and I also serve on the House Agriculture Committee. 

To round off the trip, I’m also going to be meeting with the Ellis County Democrats out there, as well as interviewing with a Ft. Hays State political science professor about the future of Kansas politics. With the realignment of political parties in the last decade or so, we now have very few rural elected Democrats, and I think that’s a shame.

I’m really excited about this trip, for a lot of reasons. First, I’m looking to learn how we can work together with rural organizers to elect more people that support public education funding, Medicaid Expansion, and addressing climate change. I’m also excited about the challenge of being on live television broadcasting to an audience who isn’t expecting a Johnson County Democrat to be showing up. Finally, I’m really excited to chat about the issues.

Here’s a sprinkling of ideas that I’ve been working on:

Right to Repair

This is a growing movement in various states for various reasons, but in Kansas, this is most relevant in the agricultural sector. When a $300,000 combine breaks down, oftentimes the only way to fix it is to call a qualified technician to come in, which could take weeks.

Right to Repair would require the manufacturer to sell the parts and repair manuals so farmers can fix it themselves and keep working.

This year, I introduced HB2309 to do just that.

Healthy Soils Fund

One of the key areas that Kansans can help address climate change is for the agricultural community to adopt healthy soils practices, which helps sequester carbon in the ground rather than in the air. It also prevents erosion and from allowing contaminants to get into our waterways.

To that end, I introduced HB2310, to establish a Health Soils Fund.

Marijuana Legalization

Kansas is one of just a handful of states that has not legalized medical marijuana, which is broadly popular with bipartisan support. This just makes sense for an agricultural state.

While there is quite a bit of momentum for medical marijuana to pass this year, I firmly believe we need to begin the conversation on fully legalizing it too.

Well, you guessed it, there’s a bill for that as well. I’m tired of Kansas being 48th and 49th to the game. With ambition and positive public policy, I think we can reverse the trend of outmigration and make this state a destination for young people to come to.

As always, it’s an honor to serve in Topeka. If you ever have any questions or suggestions, please reach out at rui.xu@house.ks.gov or call/text me at 913.535.8691.