Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday formed a heavy-hitting steering committee to ensure a federal laboratory slated for Kansas gets built.
Brownback also named U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., as chairman of the panel that will help coordinate the state’s effort in building the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF. The federal government has decided to build the lab in Manhattan, Kan., to replace an aging facility on Plum Island, N.Y.
“The completion of the NBAF in Manhattan is a high priority for the Kansas economy and for my administration,” Brownback said.
“It is expected to have a $3.5 billion economic impact on the state in the facility’s first 20 years of use,” he said.
“I’m pleased to have Sam back home keeping a watchful eye on NBAF’s developments in Kansas,” Roberts said. “Together we have been immersed in efforts to bring NBAF to our state for a long time, and I am honored to continue being a driving force in that effort,” he added.
The lab will be used to research animal, human and zoonotic diseases.
Supporters of NBAF say its construction is crucial to prepare for any kind of biological attack on the country. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has spent more than $150 million so far on site preparation, engineering and design.
The state has committed $105 million of matching funds to the project, which is expected to be completed in 2018.
Brownback also named his policy director, Landon Fulmer, as the committee’s executive director.
In addition to Roberts, members of the committee include U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder, Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp, all Republicans from Kansas.
Former Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, will also serve on the committee, as will Manhattan Mayor Jim Sherow, Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Ed McKechnie, Kansas State University President Kirk Schultz and former Gov. John Carlin, a Democrat, who serves as chairman of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.