In the last K-State student body president and vice president election, Reagan Kays, senior in agribusiness, and Cody Kennedy, senior in education, ran on three platforms: Your Education, Your Passion and Your Life. The Your Life platform included instituting a medical amnesty policy across campus.
Recently, the policy – now called Lifeline 911 – was made a campuswide policy. Kays, Kennedy and their executive team, however, decided to go even further and attempt to implement the policy as a statewide law.
“We partnered with some local legislators last fall and they helped us get our foot in the door,” Kays said.
This was no small feat, especially in the short time allotted in a one-year term. According to Kays, one of the most helpful things was getting all of the other student body presidents from each of the other Kansas Board of Regents universities on board with promoting the bill. Each executive team made Lifeline 911 the top priority to promote to senators and representatives in Topeka.
The law was introduced in committees in both the Kansas Senate and House. While it passed through both committees and was taken to the floor of both chambers, it didn’t pass the House. It was, however, introduced into the Senate as Senate Bill 133 on Feb. 2 and passed on March 25.
The bill then moved into conference committee. The conference committee includes members from both the Senate and the House and is allowed to bring a certain number of bills from one chamber to be voted upon in the other chamber. Kays and Joey Wenberg, executive initiatives director and senior in mass communications, said they are optimistic that Lifeline 911 will be one of the bills carried over to be voted upon once the term resumes on April 29.
“During this break, a lot of what they’ll do is talk to their constituents and see what they’ve missed,” Wenberg said. “When something passes one chamber completely, it’s a lot easier to get it passed on the other side.”
When Kays and Kennedy took office, 21 states had a medical amnesty law. These laws benefit minors throughout the state. The current policy at K-State only protects students from on-campus repercussions.
“It’d be good for all college students because it would help everyone, not just the people who live on campus,” Caroline Greenlee, junior in management, said. “It’s a more all encompassing policy which would be beneficial.”
Kays said that they worked to take the best pieces of each law to ensure that the law best served minors in Kansas. One big difference between other laws and the proposed Kansas law is that the amnesty will extend to the minor seeking medical attention as well as two others.
“When you’re trying to take care of a drunk friend, you’re usually not alone,” Kays said. “It takes two people to carry somebody and we wanted to make sure that people weren’t left alone to handle these situations.”
While it didn’t originally pass the house, Wenberg said he is optimistic that it will pass this time around. According to Kays, they focused a lot more on promoting the bill to senators due to the smaller number of potential votes than representatives. The bill also had support of senators Garrett Love and Michael O’Donnell.
“We’re going to be working with them to put together a game plan for the house. There’s a lot more people to try to get on board,” Wenberg said. “We do think this is something, that if the governor’s on board, that could definitely become a state law.”