Update: a hearing for this bill will happen Tuesday, March 29, at 8am.
This is a guest post from Caleb May, Director of the Meade Public Library in Western Kansas. His prepared testimony comments can be viewed here online or downloaded as a PDF. Caleb sent the following email out to the KANLIB listserv (a statewide Kansas library listserv). Kansas HB 2390 that would eliminate the Kaned organization has been introduced to the Kansas House. See the KLA website for more information on the devestating impact this bill would have on Kansas libraries, hospitals, schools, and citizens. 53 Kaned impact stories are also available here.
Caleb’s letter to KANLIB, posted with his permission:
I travelled 311 miles last night and composed testimony that I had intended to give before the House Standing Committee on General Government Budget this morning at 8:00. Though I had only had 4 hours of sleep, I was fairly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to present when at about ten after 8:00 we were informed that the meeting was cancelled. Though disappointed, I decided to use the time that I had at the statehouse to speak to the members one at a time. I was able to speak to the chairman of the committee, Representative Joe McLeland-R of Wichita, who informed me that he was sorry that the meeting had to be cancelled, but that this late in the session it is difficult to find time for everything.
I asked him if I could present my testimony next week by phone and he said that that was absolutely out of the question. He seemed to be a fairly reasonable individual, however, he seems to have an axe to grind with Kan-Ed. He believes that Kan-Ed is a millstone around the neck of the Legislature and that the initial funding of Kan-Ed when it was created was supposed to be, “seed money, ” and that they were supposed to have become self-sustaining over a period of years. His opinion is that Kan-Ed obstinately refuses to pursue alternative sources of funding and that now that most of the state’s population has access to telecommunications Kan-Ed has outlived its usefulness.
Another point of contention with the legislators is that many of them believe that there is a philosophical conflict in using KUSF (Kansas Universal Service Fund) to fund Kan-Ed. They say that our state’s regulatory fees on cellular, Internet, and phone bills are too high and that it is not right to skim money from people who can afford to pay for access to subsidise those who can’t afford it.
My personal belief is that if supporting the rural public library is not an essential function of government, what is? I think that it is wrong for government to shut-out tens of thousands of rural Kansans who would not have the ability to access high-speed telecommunications without the availability of Kan-Ed supported libraries. Access to information should not be a luxury only available to the wealthy, it is a necessity if we are to continue to have an educated public capable of self-government.
All of us need to be heard in the Kansas State house RIGHT NOW. If HB2390 (or any other bill that would sever Kan-Ed from KUSF funding and eliminate it’s budget thereby placing it’s future funding at the whims of annual appropriations battles) must be opposed by all who love Kansas libraries and believe that they are a vital component to our state’s future. Please take a moment to let your legislators know that without Kan-Ed rural libraries would see astronomical increases in FY2012 and that many would not be able to remain open to the public.
The members of the House Standing Committee on General Government Budget Committee are:
Chairman Joe McLeland-R (of Wichita)
Vice-Chair Pete DeGraaf-R (of Mulvane)
Ranking Minority Member Tom Burroughs-D (of Kansas City)
Representative Ramon Gonzalez-R (of Perry)
Representative Don Hineman-R (of Dighton)
Representative Kyle Hoffman-R (of Coldwater)
Representative Jim Howell-R (of Derby)
Representative Ronald Ryckman-R (of Meade)
Representative Nile Dillmore-D (of Wichita)
If you are really ambitious, it would also be extremely beneficial if you could forward you concerns to the members of the House Appropriations Committee as well since the would also have to pass this bill out of committee to the full House if it passes in the General Government Budget Committee. The members of Appropriations are
- Chair Rep. Marc Rhoades
- Vice Chair Rep. Kasha Kelley
- Ranking Minority Member Rep. Bill Feuerborn
- Rep. Anthony Brown
- Rep. Richard Carlson
- Rep. Dave Crum
- Rep. Pete DeGraaf
- Rep. Jim Denning
- Rep. Owen Donohoe
- Rep. Lana Gordon
- Rep. Marvin Kleeb
- Rep. Peggy Mast
- Rep. Joe McLeland
- Rep. Virgil Peck
- Rep. Joann Pottorff
- Rep. Sharon Schwartz
- Rep. Clark Shultz
- Rep. Gene Suellentrop
- Rep. Jerry Henry
- Rep. Barbara Ballard
- Rep. Sydney Carlin
- Rep. Doug Gatewood
- Rep. Harold Lane
Those of you in the Emporia area should put a lot of pressure on Peggy Mast, I spoke with her this morning and she was startled to see that the bill actually completely eliminates the Kan-Ed Fund and puts it entirely into the General Fund.
Attached please also find the testimony that I was prepared to give this morning as well as the current text of HB2390. I pray that our efforts are successful for the sake of rural Kansans!
P.S. DO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IS ON OUR SIDE. I FOUND ALMOST NO SYMPATHY FOR OUR SIDE EVEN WITH MY OWN REPRESENTATIVE.
Caleb H. May,
Meade Public Library
104 E. West Plains
P.O. Box 609
Meade, KS 67864