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Hornet Statehouse Buzz Feb. 23, 2022

Week 7 of the Statehouse Buzz

Week Seven—February 21-23, 2022

Clearly, the legislators wanted a longer weekend. In two short days, the House and Senate sent 66 bills to exempt committees in what is called Turnaround week. The bills which passed their respective house are “blessed” and sent to an exempt committee—Ways and Means, Appropriations, Federal and State Affairs, Taxation—where they will be further heard or be passed into the respective body (if they originated in the House, to the Senate and vice versa).

The sale of the Earl Center (HB 2600) was blessed since it was introduced into the Appropriations Committee and referred to Higher Ed Budget where it may (or may not) yet have a hearing. SB 450 which allows the universities to keep the profits of sale of properties like the Earl Center also passed the Senate, with only two votes against.

Next week and after, budget meetings will begin. Senate Ways and Means reports out on higher ed budgets on Thursday, March 3; Susan Humphries, chair of Higher Ed Budget in the House, reports out to Appropriations on Monday, March 7.

Last week’s budget recommendations were positive for the recommendations in the governor’s proposed budget. The request for $45.7 million to restore pre-pandemic funding had the Senate subcommittee proposing $25 million and $20 for the omnibus session; the House budget committee reversed the figures. The Senate also added a line-item for building demolition but did not change the request for deferred maintenance. Both committees did take issue with the Kansas Access scholarship for low-income Kansans to make it possible to afford college. They both suggested that this new program not be created but split on the funding with some of it going into an already existing state scholarship program as a match and some not. This will all be revisited int eh omnibus session at the end of April. All in all, this was a pleasant development, though there is a lot of time left for changes.

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That’s the buzz this week!