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Minutes for HB2101 - Committee on Ways and Means

Short Title

Extending transfers from the expanded lottery act revenues fund to the university engineering initiative.

Minutes Content for Tue, Mar 23, 2021

Chairperson Billinger opened the hearing on HB 2101.  David Wiese, Office of the Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of the bill.  (Attachment 1)

Tom Roberts, Kansas Society of Professional Engineers, testified in support of the bill as it would extend the University Engineering Initiative Act for another ten years.  This continues to be a good way to support the engineering programs.  The three universities involved surpassed their numbers but there is evidence that we still do not have enough engineers in the state.  There is a demand for in government positions as well as private sector ones.  There is a high-degree of accountability in this program and he recommended it be extended.  Mr. Roberts responded to questions from Committee members.  (Attachment 2)

John Jenks, Greater Kansas City Chamber, spoke as a proponent of the bill.  Drawing qualified workers is important for economic development.  This program has been very successful for the state in that it has exceeded its graduation targets.  Engineering is in high demand and this will help increase the number of engineers in the pipeline for Kansas companies.  (Attachment 3)

Eric Stafford, Kansas Chamber, testified in support of the bill.  This program has exceeded it's goals and he asked for continued support to train the future workforce.  (Attachment 4)

Jason Watkins, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, stood in favor of the bill.  Advanced manufacturing has made an impact on the area and, in order to keep up, we need a lot of engineers.  This program will help fill this need.  He indicated Bell Helicopter is expanding in the Wichita area partly due to the quality of engineers in Kansas.  (Attachment 5)

David Soffer, Kansas Department of Commerce, testified as a proponent of the bill.  Engineering is incredibly important to our economy and we need to continue to support this effort.  The partnership between the Department of Commerce and the universities has worked well.  We still need to do more to ensure more graduates stay in Kansas but this is a great bill and a great program.  (Attachment 6)

Blake Flanders, Kansas Board of Regents, spoke in support of the bill.  The three universities have outperformed in every area of this program and he has never seen such an outpouring of support from industry partners.  Mr. Flanders responded to questions from Committee members.  (Attachment 7)

Hugh Carter, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, stood in favor of the bill.  This initiative met its graduation rate goal three years ahead of the target date.  However, demand far outstrips the supply and he asked for continued support of the program.  (Attachment 8)

Written only testimony in support of the bill was submitted by:

Richard B. Myers, Kansas State University; Douglas Girod, University of Kansas; Richard Muma, Wichita State University  (Attachment 9)

Joe Drimmel, American Council of Engineering Companies of Kansas  (Attachment 10)

METL--Manhattan, Emporia, Topeka, Lawrence Chambers of Commerce  (Attachment 11)

Kevin Walker, Overland Park Chamber of Commerce  (Attachment 12)

The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City  (Attachment 13)

Matt Lindsey, President of the Kansas Independent College Association testified as a neutral conferee.  They support the program but there is a fourth school, Benedictine College, that has an engineering degree program.  Because it is a private school it is not allowed to be part of this program.  He included a proposed amendment in his testimony that would include non-profit colleges in this program.  Mr. Lindsey responded to questions from Committee members.  (Attachment 14)

Shirley Morrow, KLRD, distributed a document with further information from the Kansas Board of Regents regarding this program and responded to questions from Committee members.  (Attachment 15)

There being no further conferees, Chairperson Billinger closed the hearing on HB 2101.