Kansas State legislative update for March 25 highlights budget and SB 484

(Graphic by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

On Friday, March 25, Sue Peterson, chief government relations officer and assistant to the president of Kansas State, shared differences in budget recommendations and provided insight about the passage of SB 484 — The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

The session began with a review of the budget request. Peterson said the Regent’s requests are located on the lefthand side of the Governor’s Budget Recommendation, followed by the governor’s recommendations and those of the Senate and the House.

The request includes $45.7 million to keep tuition rates flat. In discussions with state legislators, Peterson said the entire amount is necessary to keep rates flat for the upcoming fall semester.

However, according to Peterson, the Senate did not recommend the total amount of $45.7 million. The House did recommend the full amount as stated in the budget document.

“So, the Senate hasn’t done that,” Peterson said during the session via Zoom. “They’re at $25 million and want to review another $20 million when they write the omnibus bill at the end of April.”

Peterson reviewed other differences in the budget, including the Kansas Access Partnership Grant that provides need-based aid to students. Both the House and Senate require a match from the university as a contingency of the grant.

Other items comprised of one-time funding requests would be part of the omnibus bill.

“When I say omnibus, the omnibus bill is the final appropriations bill to pass the legislature because the legislature is required to have a balanced budget by the Kansas Constitution, and approve every expenditure,” Peterson said.

She said the bill is created and presented at the end of the legislative session once an initial budget bill is passed and balanced.

“The omnibus bill is considered at the end of April, which is called the ‘veto session’ because — theoretically — they’ve sent all the bills to the governor by April 1, and that gives her the opportunity and time to review bills and sign and veto those bills,” Peterson said. “And if there are vetoes, the legislature has the ability to go back and look at the governor’s vetoes and override those vetoes.”

At 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28, the Budget Conference Committee did a read-through of the differences to resolve them, Peterson said.

Peterson also discussed SB 484, which passed the Senate with 27 yeas and 12 nays.

According to the bill list, SB 484 involves “enacting the fairness in women’s sports act to require that student athletic teams only include members who are of the same biological sex unless designated as coed.”

Peterson said there were three amendments to the bill: however, none passed.

“One of those amendments would have removed institutions that are governed by the NCAA, which clearly would have been any state university or any higher education institution in this state,” Peterson said. “Yet that amendment was defeated on a voice vote.”

After passing the Senate this week, Peterson said the bill moved to the House Education Committee.

“Any bill that has passed one house can be included in a conference committee,” she said. “So I’m not real sure that this would actually fit into any other education bill that might be in a conference committee.”

Peterson said she would keep an eye on the legislation to see if it gets put into a conference committee at a later time.

Peterson also reviewed other House and Senate bills affecting higher education, highlighting each bill and its potential impact.

The next legislative review sessions are from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 1, via Zoom. Anyone with a KSU eID and password can attend the sessions. Access is available through the Zoom link on the Governmental Relations website.

Additional information, including a list of legislative hearings for the current week and access to the Kansas Legislature committee meetings, is also available through the website.