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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, Mar 12, 2024

Chair Erickson opened the hearing.

Senior Assistant Revisor, Tamera Lawrence, gave an overview of the bill. (Attachment 1)

Representative Blake Carpenter, District 81, Kansas House of Representatives, stated he was an architect of this EMERGE legislation alongside Representative Adam Turk, but also as a dedicated servant of the Kansas National Guard. The EMERGE legislation is pivotal in reinforcing the strength and capability of our National Guard, and he was a strong advocate for its adoption. Chief among the needs of a Guardsman is continuous education and professional growth for service members, especially as they ascend the ranks. The pursuit of higher education, particularly a master's degree, is becoming increasingly essential for advanced leadership roles with the Guard. This requirement presents barriers that affect our recruitment, while critical for developing well-equipped leaders, presents barriers that affect our recruitment and retention efforts. This legislation is a critical investment in our personnel and, by extension, in security and prosperity of our state. (Attachment 2)

Representative Pat Proctor, District #41, Kansas House of Representative, explained that creating the EMERGE scholarship program will help Kansas Guardsmen and women pursue master's degrees at our state universities. As a professor at Wichita State University in the homeland security program, one of the classes taught is cross-listed as a graduate history course and a military science course for the WSU Army ROTC cadets. Some cadets receive the Kansas National Guard Minuteman scholarship which is a great program and great recruiting tool for the Kansas Guard. But it does not address retention or continuing education.  (Attachment 3)

Representative Adam Turk, District 11, Kansas House of Representatives, spoke to the need for EMERGE to provide tuition assistance to the dedicated members of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard. The Guard plays a pivotal role in our state's safety and well-being, with guardsmen routinely called upon to respond to emergencies, natural disasters and times of war. Education is a powerful recruiting tool to this generation's war fighter. As the military continues to roll out additional education requirements for rank advancement, this program will also serve as a tool for militatary leaders to retain the best and brightest among the ranks, further enhancing team effectiveness. This quote says it all: "A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools." (Attachment 4)

Dr. Blake Flanders, President and CEO, Kansas Board of Regents, said this legislation would create a new service scholarship to be administered by the agency, in coordination with the Adjutant General. The scholarship would be for up to 200 National Guard members a year for enrollment in any master's degree program at eligible institutions. Guard members would be selected by the Adjutant General and their service requirement would be for four years. (Attachment 5)

Master Sgt. Eugene Bradley, Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of Legislative Affairs, Adjutant General Department, spoke on behalf of Brigadier General Michael T. Venerdi, the Adjutant General, Kansas National Guard. Tuition assistance is a very popular program in the Kansas National Guard, with members utilizing $4,946,352 in benefits in calendar year 2023. However, the current tuition assistance program only covers bachelor's degrees. The Guard has 1,291 personnel who have a bachelor's degree but not yet a master's degree, which would be the primary pool of eligible members for this proposed benefit. (Attachment 6)

Proponent written only was submitted by:

Matt Lindsey, President, Kansas Independent College Association (Attachment 7)

The Chair closed the hearing on HB2567.