On June 26th I testified in a meeting of the House Select Investigating Committee which convened to address charges brought forth against one of my colleagues in the Legislature, Representative Valdenia Winn. Nine members of the Education Committee, on which I serve, filed a complaint against Rep. Winn after she referred to supporters of a controversial bill in derogatory and slanderous terms during that committee’s March 19th hearing. Consequences for Rep. Winn ranged from dismissal of the charges to a recommendation for expulsion from the Kansas Legislature. As one of the nine complainants, I want to make clear what happened in Topeka and have decided to share my statement to the Committee with you, my constituents, so there will be no misunderstanding about my strongly held position regarding this issue.
The following is my statement to the House Select Investigating Committee:
Madame Chair and Panel-
Today’s hearing is not about the nature of HB 2139 pertaining to in-state tuition for illegal aliens. I have been told that this issue involving the complaint and subsequent hearing is a matter of free speech and 1st Amendment rights. It is not! This hearing is about remarks made by Representative Valdenia Winn during the discussion of HB2139 during our Education Committee meeting, specifically when she stated that supporters of HB 2139 were racists, bigots and sexists. I am a supporter of this bill and find her remarks offensive, disrespectful, and in violation of the rules that govern the body of legislators in the Kansas House.
According to Mason’s Rules (Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure), these are the rules Representative Winn violated:
2. No person may indulge in personalities, impugn the motives of members, use profane language or participate in conduct that disrupts or disturbs the orderly proceedings of the body.
Sec. 123. Use of Disorderly Words in Debate
1. No person may indulge in personalities, impugn motives of members, or use indecent or profane language.
Sec. 124. Personalities Not Permitted in Debate
1. In debate a member must confine remarks to the question before the house, and avoid personalities.
3. It is not the person but the measure that is the subject of debate, and it is not allowable to arraign the motives of a member, but the nature of the consequences of a measure may be condemned in strong terms.
The complaint brought against Representative Winn is not a party issue; it is a rules issue. The rules of decorum govern the conduct of both political parties and call for mutual respect among legislators. Representative Winn surely is aware that accusations of this nature serve no purpose but to stifle debate and the necessary exchange of ideas. Instead of adding to the important debate regarding HB 2139 with substantive facts, Representative Winn resorted to the tactic of choosing her target, freezing, personalizing, and polarizing it. I was one of those targets. I urge the House Select Investigating Committee to use wisdom and sound judgment in this hearing with the understanding that a lack of disciplinary action will set precedence for the tolerance of any future violations of this nature within the legislature.
I understand how things work around here along party lines. This division is a concern within the Legislature. However, rules, respect, and honor are necessary components of the legislative process. Referring to each other in terms unbecoming to our elected positions within committee and in the House is unacceptable. If any poor behavior is tolerated, we have no need for rules let alone honor or respect in the House.
Thank you Madame Chair, Panel
Working for You
Tony is working for you on the Insurance, Education, Veterans, Military and Homeland Security, and Energy and Environment Legislative Committees. The committee sessions are open to the public and he invites you to attend and talk with him at the State House. Time, day and location are:
Insurance - Day: Mon/Wed - Time: 3:30 pm - Room: 152-S
Education - Day: Daily - Time: 1:30 pm - Room: 112-N
Veterans, Military and Homeland Security - Day: Tue/Thu - Time: 9:00 am - Room: 152-S
Energy and Environment - Day: Mon/Wed - Time: 9:00 am - Room: 582-N
Also, check out Tony's Legislative Updates by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. Tony's State House website is found here - http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/members/rep_barton_tony_1/
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