Racial, ethnic makeup of Legislature stays same; fewer women

Though the past election resulted in the largest turnover of state lawmakers in decades, the racial and ethnic makeup of the Legislature barely changed. “The state went from seven black legislators to eight, added a representative of Asian descent for the first time in two years, stayed at four Latino legislators and retained its lone American Indian representative, Ponka-We Victors, D-Wichita,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Latinos, which accounted for 10.5 percent of the state’s population in 2010, are the most underrepresented, with only 2.4 percent of the Legislature, or 4 of 165 members. African-Americans, who were 5.9 percent of the state’s population in 2010, make up 4.8 percent of the Legislature this year. Meanwhile, the number of women lawmakers decreased to 39, down from 55 in 1999 and the lowest total since 1988.