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Marriage proposal in House chamber lightens legislative mood

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Friday, May 10, 2013, at 2:48 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 17, 2013, at 9 a.m.

— In a chamber often known for discord, love bloomed Friday.

Rep. Phil Hermanson, R-Wichita, proposed to his girlfriend, Rhonda Riggs of Wichita, on the House floor.

She said “yes.”

The two have known each other since going to elementary school in Goddard, and they dated briefly before college. Then, in a sign of the times, they rekindled their relationship via Facebook and began dating after discovering their mutual love for the Wichita State University Shockers during the team’s historic Final Four run.

Riggs, 46, said she felt nervous as Hermanson, 48, invited her up to the podium and dropped to one knee in front of about 120 fellow lawmakers gathered in the House chamber.

“Rhonda, you’re my best friend and this day is very important for both of us,” he said. “Would you please come up here?”

She walked to the “well,” where lawmakers often give impassioned speeches about their political positions.

“I have a very important question to ask you,” Hermanson said. “Rhonda Riggs, would you marry me?”

Lawmakers roared with applause and whistles.

“She said ‘yes,’ ” Hermanson announced.

“I promise I will do my best to be the best husband ever,” he said.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, then jokingly called for a vote, and lawmakers punched their buttons, as they do when they vote on proposed legislation.

The proposal passed with one “no” vote from Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, who said he only opposed because he and Hermanson are roommates during the legislative session and he doesn’t want to give him up.

Hermanson said he wanted to propose in the House during an official legislative session because he would be surrounded by friends and colleagues.

Reach Brent Wistrom at 785-296-3006 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com.

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