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 commentsÂ 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 IÂ had intended to give before the House Standing Committee on GeneralÂ Government Budget this morning at 8:00. Though I had only had 4 hoursÂ of sleep, I was fairly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready toÂ present when at about ten after 8:00 we were informed that the meetingÂ was cancelled. Though disappointed, I decided to use the time that IÂ had at the statehouse to speak to the members one at a time. I wasÂ able to speak to the chairman of the committee, Representative JoeÂ McLeland-R of Wichita, who informed me that he was sorry that theÂ meeting had to be cancelled, but that this late in the session it isÂ difficult to find time for everything.
I asked him if I could presentÂ my testimony next week by phone and he said that that was absolutelyÂ out of the question. He seemed to be a fairly reasonable individual,Â however, he seems to have an axe to grind with Kan-Ed. He believesÂ that Kan-Ed is a millstone around the neck of the Legislature and thatÂ the initial funding of Kan-Ed when it was created was supposed to be,Â “seed money, ” and that they were supposed to have becomeÂ self-sustaining over a period of years. His opinion is that Kan-EdÂ obstinately refuses to pursue alternative sources of funding and thatÂ now that most of the state’s population has access toÂ telecommunications Kan-Ed has outlived its usefulness.
Another pointÂ of contention with the legislators is that many of them believe thatÂ there is a philosophical conflict in using KUSF (Kansas UniversalÂ Service Fund) to fund Kan-Ed. They say that our state’s regulatoryÂ fees on cellular, Internet, and phone bills are too high and that itÂ is not right to skim money from people who can afford to pay forÂ access to subsidise those who can’t afford it.
My personal belief is that if supporting the rural public libraryÂ is not an essential function of government, what is? I think that itÂ is wrong for government to shut-out tens of thousands of rural KansansÂ who would not have the ability to access high-speed telecommunicationsÂ without the availability of Kan-Ed supported libraries. Access toÂ information should not be a luxury only available to the wealthy, itÂ is a necessity if we are to continue to have an educated publicÂ capable of self-government.
All of us need to be heard in the Kansas State house RIGHT NOW.Â If HB2390 (or any other bill that would sever Kan-Ed from KUSF fundingÂ and eliminate it’s budget thereby placing it’s future funding at theÂ whims of annual appropriations battles) must be opposed by all whoÂ love Kansas libraries and believe that they are a vital component toÂ our state’s future. Please take a moment to let your legislators knowÂ that without Kan-Ed rural libraries would see astronomical increasesÂ in FY2012 and that many would not be able to remain open to theÂ public.
The members of the House Standing Committee on General GovernmentÂ 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 ifÂ you could forward you concerns to the members of the HouseÂ Appropriations Committee as well since the would also have to passÂ this bill out of committee to the full House if it passes in theÂ General Government Budget Committee. The members of AppropriationsÂ 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 PeggyÂ Mast, I spoke with her this morning and she was startled to see thatÂ the bill actually completely eliminates the Kan-Ed Fund and puts itÂ entirely into the General Fund.
Attached please also find the testimony that I was prepared to giveÂ this morning as well as the current text of HB2390. I pray that ourÂ efforts are successful for the sake of rural Kansans!
P.S. DO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IS ON OUR SIDE.Â I FOUND ALMOST NO SYMPATHY FOR OUR SIDE EVEN WITH MY OWNÂ REPRESENTATIVE.
Caleb H. May,
Meade Public Library
104 E. West Plains
P.O. Box 609
Meade, KS 67864