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Minutes for HB2175 - Committee on Local Government

Short Title

Creating the Dwayne Peaslee technical training center district.

Minutes Content for Wed, Feb 10, 2021

Chairperson Thompson called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m.

Representative Helmer moved and Representative Featherston seconded to approve the Committee minutes for February 3, 2021.  The motion passed.

The Chair opened the hearing on HB2175.

Senior Assistant Revisor Mike Heim briefed the Committee on the salient features of the bill.  He explained that the bill allows Douglas County to create a new special district; the bill outlines the procedures for a special election, for establishing a new governing board for the district, and for funding the district with a levy not to exceed .50 mils.  An annual budget report is to be presented to the Douglas County Commissioners annually on January 31 and all existing contracts will be transferred to the special district.

Representative Amyx, speaking as a proponent, echoed the explanation of Mr. Heim and noted that the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center offers an excellent alternative for non-college individuals to be certified for a variety of job skills (Attachment 1).  Responding to questions, he replied that not only does the center provide training for high-school students, but that companies often contract with the Center to proffer additional training for their employees.  The Center is funded by local efforts.  A Committee member commented that the county does not have the authority to establish a special district; the bill will provide that statutory authority.

Kevin Kelley, CEO, Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center, outlined the focus of the bill by saying, "When a person comes home, he/she wants the lights to come on, the temperature to be adjusted, and the toilet to flush."  He said the Center trains individuals to meet those skilled-trade levels of certification; the bill will establish long-term stability for the Center by providing a consistent source of revenue to supplement student tuition and community resources (Attachment 2).  Mr. Kelley noted the number of written testimonies supporting the bill that accompanied his written testimony.

Mr. Kelley responded to members' questions:

  • The Center hosts about 80 high school students in trades such as welding and auto mechanics; the students receive college credit from Johnson County Community College. 
  • The Center does not recruit students from outside the county but will accept students statewide.  The Center has established partnerships with community colleges across the state.
  • The Center focuses on skills that will provide a living wage and will assure job offers after completion of course work.
  • The Center curriculum includes English as a Second Language and those preparing to obtain a GED.
  • Because the Center already had protocols in place to address potential crises, when the pandemic closed down many schools, the Center's protocols met the requirements of the Kansas Board of Regents; the Center was only closed for a few days.
  • The present enrollment is about 600.  Before the pandemic, enrollment ranged around 1800.  Tuition averages $2500, and the Center assures that a graduate leaves the Center with no student debt.  Length of courses vary widely from a few weeks to years.

Hugh Carter, Vice Present for External Affairs, The Chamber of Lawrence Kansas, via WebEx testified as a proponent for the bill (Attachment 3).  He gave a brief history of the Center and reviewed the extensive local support for the Center, which includes twelve local banks and the resources of the school district.  He explained that this bill provides the final piece of funding to provide long-term viability for the Center.

Throughout the hearing members expressed appreciation for the multi-faceted work of the Center.

Mr. Heim, responding to an earlier question, reported that Douglas County has 43 special tax districts, including such services as fire districts and water districts as well as school districts.

The hearing on HB2175 was closed.