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Minutes for HB2567 - Committee on Education

Short Title

Establishing the Kansas national guard educational master's for enhanced readiness and global excellence (EMERGE) program.

Minutes Content for Tue, Jan 30, 2024

Jason Long, Office of Revisor of Statutes, gave a brief overview of HB2567. He stated that the Kansas National Guard Educational Master's for Enhanced Readiness and Global Excellence (EMERGE) Program is structured very similar to the existing Kansas National Guard Educational Assistance Program. The primary differences between the two programs are that:

       1. The EMERGE Program participants must be working towards obtaining a master's degree; and

       2. EMERGE program participation is limited to only those members who are selected for the Program by the Adjutant General.

Mr. Long further described the program and the effective date if enacted. (Attachment1)

 

Blake Flanders, President and CEO of the Board of Regents, testified in support of HB2567 with suggestions to optimize the bill.(Attachment2)

Anthony DeJesus, National Guard Association of Kansas, spoke on behalf of Nicholoe E. Inskeep, Legislative Chair, National Guard Association of Kansas, in support of HB2567. The National Guard Association of Kansas is comprised of commissioned officers of the Kansas National Guard, both Officer and Warrant Officer. The Association advocates on behalf of the members, to continuously improve our relevance, readiness, modernization and quality of life at both the state and national levels; all while promoting our rich heritage as the nations first military organization. HB2567 provides an incentive for both recruiting and retention of members of members of the Kansas National Guard. This would allow the National Guard to provide the state with a force that is highly educated and more competitive with peers within the military, but also, provides a more educated work force for the state of Kansas. Investing in Soldiers and Airmen will assist in the retention of said servicemen and women, ensuring we have a capable force to respond when called upon the the variety of situations they could be called to serve in.(Attachment3)

Representative Blake Carpenter, member of the Kansas National Guard, spoke in support of HB2567. This initiative positions the Guard as an attractive option for recruitment, offering a path for both service and personal growth.The retention aspect of the EMERGE program is equally critical. The additional six-year service commitment, balanced against the educational and career benefits provided, strengthens the bond of our members to the Guard, fostering a more experienced, cohesive, and mission-ready unit.

The six-year service commitment integral to the EMERGE program reflects the dedication and sacrifice required in military service. This commitment represents a mutual pact;  a solemn promise from our members to serve with honor and a commitment from the Guard to invest in their comprehensive development. It ensures that the Guard retains highly skilled and educated leaders, vital for operational continuity and effectiveness. (Attachment4)

Representative Adam Turk, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kansas (EANGKS) spoke in support of HB2567. Representative Turk explained some of the students requirement who would benefit from the EMERGE program.

Matt Lindsey, President, Kansas Independent College Association, provided written testimony in support of HB2567.   (Attachment5)

Troy Abel, President, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kansas (EANGKS), provided written testimony in support of HB2567.(Attachment6)

Michael Kelly, Military Officers Association of America, asked to speak to HB2567 as a proponent from the floor. Mr. Kelly went on to describe the benefits of the VA benefits under the GI Bill that are currently listed on the VA website which include tuition, book fees, which are paid directly to the school at the beginning of semester, and there is a housing allowance, which differs where you are in the country. The Department of Defense has several hundred housing areas that have a different housing allowance for each area and the housing allowance varies by rank. They use E5 or Staff Sergeant in the Air Force no matter what your grade is in the National Guard, however you must be taking 12 hours to get the full housing allowance. This is not taxable monies.

Lt. Colonel Keith Marshall, Legislative Liaison for Michael T. Venerdi, Brigadier General, Kansas National Guard, The Adjutant General, provided neutral testimony regarding HB2567. This bill did not originate from the office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, however if the Legislature desires to create and fund this program, it would benefit the Kansas National Guard and its personnel. Lt. Colonial Marshall described how the service commitment once the education benefits are utilized creates a strong retention incentive. The current strength of the Kansas Army National Guard is 97.4% and the Kansas Air National Guard is 92.9% and any tool that would increase those numbers is a benefit to the Kansas National Guard and its readiness to respond to state missions across Kansas and federal missions around the world.(Attachment7)

All conferees stood for questions.

Hearing on HB 2567 was closed.

Chairperson Thomas adjourned the meeting at 2:26 pm.