Rep. Virgil Peck makes comment about using hunters in helicopters to battle illegal immigration
Topeka Democrats in the Kansas House plan to push the chamber to formally condemn a Republican member's remark likening illegal immigrants to "feral hogs" that should be shot as a way to reduce their numbers, according to a draft resolution obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
Six House members, led by Minority Leader Paul Davis, have drafted the resolution condemning the remark last month by Rep. Virgil Peck, a Tyro Republican. The Democrats plan to introduce it next week, when the Legislature reconvenes to wrap up its business for the year.
"Although Representative Peck has the right to free speech and this Legislature stands in full support of that right, that right does not include the advocacy of gratuitous, deadly violence against other human beings," the resolution says. "Kansas must affirm its reputation as a welcoming, tolerant state."
However, the resolution doesn't seek further action against Peck, such as a censure. The House's rules allow the chamber to discipline or expel a member but don't spell out what constitutes misconduct.
Peck did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment. He's resisted calls from Democratic legislators, immigrant rights groups and Hispanic advocacy groups to resign.
Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, also didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
Peck made his comment during a March 14 committee discussion about a state plan to use gunmen in helicopters to control the feral swine population. Peck said, "If shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem."
The comment drew gasps from other committee members and the audience, and he said after the meeting that he was joking. A day later, he issued a short statement calling the remark "regrettable," adding, "Please accept my apology."
Gov. Sam Brownback called the remark inappropriate. Leaders of the House's Republican majority called it offensive but said they counseled Peck, accepted his apology and considered him "a valuable member" of the chamber.
The Democrats' resolution says Peck's public apology "does not display the remorse that is necessary to remedy this wrong."
"Human immigration is an important part of our past and our future," the resolution says. "Endorsing violent acts against any individual or group cannot be tacitly or explicitly condoned or seen as condoned by those who hold leadership positions."
Other sponsors of the resolution are Democratic Reps. Barbara Ballard, of Lawrence; Tom Burroughs, of Kansas City; Eber Phelps, of Hays; Annie Tietze, of Topeka, and Valdenia Winn, of Kansas City.