Archive for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kansas Senate committee refuses to move forward with dismantling of Kan-Ed

May 3, 2011

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— A state-run network that provides broadband access to hundreds of schools, libraries and hospitals, but has angered powerful telecommunications interests may have received a reprieve on Tuesday from the legislative chopping block.

Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, and chair of the Senate Utilities Committee, indicated his committee wasn’t going to act on a House-approved bill that would pull the plug on Kan-Ed.

Instead, Apple directed Kan-Ed leaders to get with cable and phone company lobbyists and make peace.

“Good people are involved and I think they’ll come up with a solution,” Apple said.

Apple told Andy Tompkins, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Board of Regents, which administers Kan-Ed, to meet this summer with representatives of the telecommunications industry. Tompkins said he would be more than happy to do that. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Earlier, lobbyists from Sprint, Verizon Wireless and the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association said Kan-Ed was providing services that private companies could provide.

John Federico, president of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association, said Kan-Ed “appears to be another government program that has overreached and lost sight of its original purpose.”

Kan-Ed was created in 2001 and is funded with a monthly 25 cent per line charge on telephone service. That raises about $10 million per year for its operation.

The House approved a measure that would stop funding Kan-Ed on July 1, 2012.

But a long line of people representing libraries, hospitals and schools told the Utilities Committee that Kan-Ed provides a vital service that they otherwise could not get or could not afford to get.

Health care officials said Kan-Ed has been instrumental in expanding telemedicine, which has allowed patients in rural areas to access specialized physicians without having to travel long distances.

“The rural nature of our state coupled with the anticipated health care workforce shortages in future years makes expanding telemedicine programs in Kansas imperative,” said Chad Austin, vice president of government relations for the Kansas Hospital Association.

Schools, especially in smaller districts, are dependent on Kan-Ed for providing long-distance learning opportunities, such as calculus and foreign language in schools that don’t have those subject teachers.

And officials representing small libraries said they would lose quality Internet access or access altogether without Kan-Ed.

Comments

Common_Sense 4 years, 4 months ago

THANK GOD FOR THE SENATE!!! At this point....the REASONABLE body of the Kansas Legislature!

Ralph Reed 4 years, 4 months ago

The only reason they didn't pull the plug is that Kan-Ed has nothing to do with people's bedrooms, women's health, planned parenthood, Kansas K-12 education support or that awful "a" word.

speedy47 4 years, 4 months ago

WOW! Makes me wonder what Sen. Apple is up to. He's got to have an ulterior motive.

Betty Bartholomew 4 years, 4 months ago

Well of course the private telecoms can do it, but they'll expect a lot more money than $.25/line! The point of Kan-Ed is that it provides the services to schools, libraries, etc. at a price they can afford. Sprint, et al, just see money that isn't theirs and want the $10m^x-factor in their pockets.

If it were a question of providing dirt-cheap service to private individuals, I would see their corporate argument a little better, but it's not.

lawslady 4 years, 4 months ago

Amen. Of COURSE the private companies want to kill KanEd. They've hated it from the start because it was/is providing cable service to PUBLIC entities (such as schools, hospitals and libraries) for less $ than the private would/do/can. And before free market arguments are raised, the government provides a lot of services that are also available privately (Schools and hospitals to name two). Do we really want the government to stop funding all public services? Do you really think that the private companies are not going to do all they can to make as much $ as possible in providing the same services? This is ALL about the lobbiests for the industry talking law makers into helping them make more $. Watch for campaign contributions (by these cable/phone companies) to the legislators supporting this bad idea.

And before the law makers pull the plug on a service that means rural Kansas can afford to get a modicum of cable services at a price that is not prohibitive, in order to "save" the $ spent on Kan-Ed (which BTW comes NOT from tax dollars but from a fee collected by private companies), they may want to take a look at THEIR OWN frivoulous spending. I know I'm beating the same old drum, but did they really need to pay $5000 to print and distribute hundreds of copies of a resolution condemning one of their own members for a stupid comment he made (see HR 6026)? http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/year1/measures/documents/hr6026_00_0000.pdf Wouldn't a LETTER to the EDITOR be cheaper and work just as well??

ksriver2010 4 years, 4 months ago

That is not 25 cents per line for their phone service. That's 25 cents per line on our phone service. I personally don't think that I subsidize broadband for schools and libraries. Let this be taken out of local taxes or not at all. Ironically, when I saw this headline I though that the legislature was defunding or abolishing the Kansas State Dept of Education.

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