Basketball, budgets and biosciences were among the key topics discussed at the Statehouse this week. With legislators now completing their fourth week in session, more bills are making their way to the debate calendar and the pace is quickly ramping up.
For KU, the week’s highlights were many. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little testified before members of the Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education supporting the Governor's budget recommendations for the university. Bob Honea, director of KU’s Transportation Research Institute testified before a House committee on emerging transportation research at KU. And all legislators and staff were thanked for their work at an early morning breakfast hosted by KU at the Statehouse. Students, deans, academic leaders and alumni were all on hand to help host the gathering. Of course, the true star of that show was Baby Jay who posed for countless photographs with state leaders. It was a fun way to show our appreciation for the state’s support of the university.
As part of KU in the Capitol, the KU Cancer Center was honored in both the House and Senate by lawmakers, specifically recognizing the leadership of Dr. Roy Jensen. Members in both chambers gave him and the university standing ovations as resolutions (Senate Resolution 1709 & House Resolution 6011) honoring the National Cancer Institute designation were adopted. So many of our state policymakers have been personally supportive of our NCI efforts and their pride in this accomplishment is enormous. With so many difficult – and divisive – issues on the state’s agenda, it is gratifying to see this project receive deep, bi-partisan support.
Legislative deadlines are quickly shaping the work of the session. Monday, February 11 is the deadline for bills to be requested for introduction and all bills must have cleared their house of origin by the end of this month. That leaves only another three weeks for measures introduced in the House to have been approved in that body and likewise for measures originating in the Senate. Exempt from those deadlines are budget and revenue measures. Those will be debated in both bodies in March.
Next week will be a key week as members of the Kansas Board of Regents invest time advocating for higher education in meetings with state lawmakers. Support for university budget priorities will be their key message.
We can anticipate a plethora of new legislative proposals to make their way from the drafting table to the debate calendar in the weeks ahead. Hopefully when the dust settles there will be energy left to tackle the key issues of economic growth, education, health policy, natural resources & others for our state. A lot of heavy lifting remains!
Director of State Relations