Gallery Shouter Says He’s Worried About Kansas


By John Celock

The man who shouted a progressive health care message from the Kansas House gallery Wednesday afternoon is an activist from Lawrence who wanted to make a point about the nation’s health care system.

Garret Tufte left the House gallery Wednesday after an outburst calling for a public health care system during a House debate over a health care bill that included changes to the Kansas health care stabilization fund. Tweets from those in the chamber said that Tufte was escorted out by Capitol Police while Tufte tells The Celock Report that he left the gallery willingly.

Tufte had shouted to lawmakers “Isn’t the best way to stabilize health care is to make it public.” Tufte’s comments came as Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) and HHS Committee Ranking Minority Member Jim Ward (D-Wichita) were discussing the conference committee report covering several health care bills on the House floor.

Tufte said he does not regret the outburst, saying that he felt the debate over the health care bill and his long-term feelings about the direction of Kansas and national politics led him to want to say something.

“To tell you the truth, I had a lump in my throat and my heart was pounding,” Tufte told The Celock Report. “I could not sit there and let them say this stuff. I had been meaning to go to session for a long time.”

The House approved the conference committee report 116-3 shortly after Tufte left the gallery.

Tufte said he wants to see a publicly funded health care system, similar to what is employed in many European countries.

“The are talking about stabilizing health care. If they are not talking about making it public it is b*****t. You can’t stabilize it with a private entity,” Tufte said. “The rest of the world is a perfect model on how we can have a public health care system. Everyone gets sick. We are all going to get sick and ill at some point. We’re all going to need health care. The most efficient way to do this is to have a public system. It is the cheapest way. It is the most humane way. It is the most moral way.”

Tufte is a land surveyor from Lawrence. He said that while this was the first time he had been to a House session, he has been to the Capitol before to play the piano on Friday afternoons for an hour.

Tufte told The Celock Report that his concerns with government include dependence on fossil fuels, tax cuts, growing student loans and bailouts for Wall Street and other banks. He said that his concerns with the direction of state government come from what he’s read and heard in the past several years.

“The rumors and the things I heard from the papers and the representatives in Lawrence on what I heard is nuts and insane,” he said. “Breaking with parliamentary procedures is the least of the issues in our state.”