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Flags lowered across the state following the death of Wichita legislator Gail Finney

Carla Eckels
Rep. Gail Finney

Finney, who represented parts of Wichita in the Kansas House for more than 13 years, died on Saturday.

Flags across the state of Kansas are at half-staff following the death this weekend of Kansas Representative Gail Finney of Wichita.

Gov. Laura Kelly directed that flags be lowered on all state buildings, grounds and facilities to honor Finney, who served more than 13 years in the Kansas House. Finney was 63.

“Kansas lost a warrior,” Kelly said in a statement. “No one fought harder for her constituents, for her community, for justice and equity than Representative Gail Finney.

“My thoughts are with Rep. Finney’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

The Kansas Democratic Party added in a statement: “Our hearts are heavy upon learning of the passing of Representative Gail Finney … We celebrate her decades of service to her community, her commitment to the people of Wichita and all of Kansas, and her incredible career.”

Finney, a Democrat, represented District 84, which is bounded roughly from Washington to Oliver between 21st Street and Kellogg. Her district included the neighborhoods around Wichita State University as well as parts of downtown Wichita and College Hill.

She was first elected in 2008, running unopposed, and easily won reelection six more times. Finney, who had suffered from health problems, did not seek reelection this year.

Finney was an advocate for her district, especially in matters involving social justice.

She helped pass legislation that allowed people with suspended drivers licenses to get a restricted license to allow them to get to work, church or school. She also has pushed for stricter requirements and more accountability when law enforcement seized property belonging to people suspected, but not convicted, of a crime.

Finney pushed back in 2019 when Evergy placed large utility poles in neighborhoods in near northeast Wichita. She also introduced legislation that utility companies obtain a siting permit, hold public hearings and be held accountable by the Kansas Corporation Commission before taking similar action in the future.

During this year’s session, she introduced a bill to ban no-knock warrants by law enforcement. Finney also was a longtime advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Finney was a graduate of Wichita Southeast High School. She later earned degrees from Wichita State and Friends University.

Services are pending.

KMUW News is a team of dedicated on-air and digital reporters working to tell the stories of Wichita and its residents.