Topeka The chairman of a legislative committee chided a colleague over remarks he made in reference to female nursing students who attended a hearing.
After the nine nursing students from Emporia State University were introduced to the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Mike Kiegerl said, "Since they're here, they can resuscitate me."
Some fellow lawmakers and people in the audience cringed at the remark, and it angered the chairman, Rep. Jim Morrison, R-Colby.
"He needs to be straightened out," Morrison said of Kiegerl. "That's an uncalled-for comment."
Morrison noted that with the committee's hearings broadcast live over the Internet, as many as 5,000 people may have heard the remark.
Rep. Nancy Kirk, D-Topeka, called her colleague's attempt at humor "sexist."
"He owes those women an apology," she said. "I think he should apologize to the committee."
Kiegerl, R-Olathe, said he had no intention of apologizing.
"To a degree, it's a compliment," Kiegerl, who has had heart surgery, said of his comment. "They are student nurses. They're professionally able to do what a normal person wouldn't do."
Kiegerl, elected to the House in 2004, raised eyebrows last year when he said liberals in Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas, deserve any economic fallout from a "living wage" requirement for companies that receive a special local tax break.
"Why should we not allow Lawrence to hurt its local economy?" he said at a committee meeting. "We all know that Marxism is alive and well only in academia."
Kiegerl said Wednesday that people had become so uptight that lighthearted moments were increasingly rare.
"We're to the point now that you have to weigh every word you say," he said.