Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Legislative Alert: Bill to Abolish Kan-ed

Yesterday, a bill was introduced which would abolish Kan-Ed. House Bill 2390 was introduced by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (Marc Rhoades, R-Newton) at the request of the Speaker of the House (Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson).
This is an important issue for libraries, which rely upon Kan-Ed for affordable and high-speed Internet connectivity, the ELMeR videoconferencing network, research databases (including all K-12 databases and Heritage Quest), Kan-Ed Live Tutor (Homework Kansas), and more. All these things would be lost if the bill passes.
Please contact your Kansas state representative to express your strong support for Kan-Ed and urge him/her to oppose House Bill 2390. It’s uncertain when the bill might come to a vote, but to be on the safe side, please make contacts within one week.
What is the best way to do this? You can find a list of Kansas representatives and their contact information at http://kslegislature.org/li/chamber/house/roster/. Most legislators welcome email messages from constituents, so be sure to include your address or otherwise indicate that you are a constituent. A phone call or personal note may be even more effective.
In your communication, please emphasize the negative impact on library users. Your message should be personalized, but some points to consider include:
  • The bill would be extremely destructive to libraries, schools, and hospitals. In many communities, primarily rural, there is no viable alternative for high-speed Internet access.
  • Even in communities where there are alternatives, the cost would be prohibitive for many libraries.
  • The deadline has passed for libraries to apply for e-rate discounts for 2011-2012, for help in paying for Internet access.
  • The state increasingly relies on public libraries to provide access to such e-government services as unemployment benefits and filing taxes. With this bill, library users without their own Internet access would find their access to these e-government service in jeopardy.
  • There would be absolutely no savings in the state general fund, since Kan-Ed is funded from the Kansas Universal Service Fund and e-rate discounts from the federal universal service fund. Thus, abolishing Kan-Ed will not help balance the state budget
  • ELMeR saves staff time and travel, and also provides videoconferencing services to the communities which participate in the network. ELMeR is entirely dependent upon Kan-Ed.
  • You could include some information about how your users make use of the K-12 databases or Kan-Ed Live Tutor (Homework Kansas).
  • It is the ability of Kan-ed to purchase a statewide network, which was awarded to AT&T in a competitive bidding process, that has made Kan-Ed cost effective.
  • People from western Kansas should also point out that while this bill is vitally important to western Kansas, there are no representatives on the committee to which the bill has been referred (Appropriations) which are farther west than Lindsborg.
Thank you in advance for your effort!

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