Lawrence rep’s bill on missing and murdered Indigenous people headed to governor

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A bill that allows for the Kansas attorney general to coordinate training for law enforcement agencies in handling cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people is headed to Gov. Laura Kelly’s desk.

Sponsored by Lawrence Rep. Christina Haswood and Wichita Rep. Ponka-We Victors — both Democrats among few Native American members of the state Legislature — the legislation passed both the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate unanimously.

A brief, single-page bill, Haswood and Victors’ legislation gives the state attorney general’s office the ability to coordinate training regarding missing and murdered Indigenous persons for law enforcement agencies throughout Kansas. The office, according to the legislation, should conduct the training in consultation with Native American Indian tribes, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, and other appropriate state agencies.

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 19, Haswood, Victors and a representative of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence testified in favor of the bill, saying it would help address the high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across America.

Current Attorney General Derek Schmidt provided written testimony in support of the bill, as did representatives of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the Student Government Association of Haskell Indian Nations University, according to supplemental legislative information.

Haswood, a lifelong Lawrence resident and a registered member of Navajo Nation, is a first term representative of Kansas’ 10th House district, which includes portions of Lawrence and Eudora, in addition to all of Baldwin City. She ran uncontested in the November 2020 general election after emerging as the victor of a three-way Democratic primary in August.

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