TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas Democratic lawmaker is now facing a formal complaint filed by a group of conservative Republicans who believe the state representative used “inflammatory language” during a House Education Committee meeting earlier this month.
Democratic Kansas state Rep. Valdenia Winn was speaking out against House Bill 2139, which would repeal an existing law that allows undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition. She feels the legislation is “discriminatory.”
“I felt that it was an example of institutional racism because it targeted a select group, it in essence just shut them off for any future chances of higher education,” she explained to FOX 4 on Tuesday.
An official transcript of Winn’s comments quote her as saying, “this is a racist, sexist, fear-mongering bill that I would like first to apologize to the progressively-minded people of Kansas who are appalled that we are turning back the hands of time… and I am going to use strong language, Jim Crow tactics, and once again making Kansas a laughingstock.”
Winn went on to say, “I want to apologize to the students and their parents whose lives are being hijacked by the racist bigots who support this bill.”
Her comments did not sit well with nine conservative Republican lawmakers, a group of seven white men and two black men, who filed a formal complaint against Winn for using what the call “inflammatory language” toward the committee that they felt was “offensive and reprehensible.”
“It was not becoming of a Kansas state representative to burst out like that,” explained Republican Rep. Willie Dove in a phone interview from Topeka Tuesday night, “and insult her colleagues in a way that they did, we did not, deserve. And for her to use a race card, I think is pretty ridiculous.”
Rep. Dove said he thinks Winn should apologize to the entire legislature for her comments, but Winn said she’s fighting injustice and is entitled to freedom of speech.
“I said the supporters are supporting a bill that is an act of institutional racism,” she said. “Now, 1 + 1 = 2. So if you support this type of bill that has racist outcomes, then I’m saying yes, you may be a racist bigot.”
The immigration bill is now tabled and a hearing on the complaint is scheduled for Wednesday. If the House Select Investigating Committee decides Winn violated house rules, the full House could decide to reprimand her or even expel her.