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. Kellie Warren are scheduled to send updates this week.
Below is the submission from Democratic State Rep. Xu, who represents District 25.
Serving in the superminority party in the Kansas legislature, one of the most common questions that I get asked is “How do you do it? How can you remain so optimistic?”
This question is especially salient after last week, when the Kansas House:
- Refused to add a mask mandate to our House rules.
- Refused to mandate reporting positive tests to the Speaker.
- Passed out the Constitutional Amendment on abortion after House Democrats attempted a series of amendments to improve it, such as:
- Moving the ballot date from the August 2022 ballot to the higher turnout November 2022 ballot.
- Adding in explicit protections for extreme cases which have broad public support.
- In the spirit of valuing life, abolishing the death penalty as well.
There are several things on a broader scale which give me hope, such as a new year, a new Presidential administration, and vaccines being distributed. While not all of these will be totally smooth and perfect, they at least represent a light at the end of the tunnel and for that, I am thankful.
What truly gives me hope, though, are my incredible colleagues and what we’re fighting for.
I came into the legislature with two trailblazing LGBTQ representatives in Representatives Woodard and Ruiz. This year, we’ve added the first trans representative in Kansas history with Representative Stephanie Byers.
We’ve also added two incredible women in their 20’s to the legislature. Representative Christina Haswood just recently went viral on TikTok for walking through our swearing-in in her Native regalia. Representative Lindsay Vaughn recently just gave an impassioned speech on the House floor about the Constitutional Amendment and how it affects her rights.
In addition to these three, we also have Representatives Jennifer Day, Linda Featherston, Jo Ella Hoye, and Mari-Lynn Poskin in what has been a tremendously talented freshman class in the Kansas House.
Together, we’ll be fighting for social justice, environmental protections, higher wages, high quality public education, and expanded access to health care. With the numbers in the Legislature, it will be a difficult year for many of these issues but I have zero doubt that we will fight with every ounce of strength that we have.