The 2014 legislative session

December 05, 2013

While students finish up their last week of classes and prepare for finals next week, many of us are looking forward to those quieter days of the holiday break. In the meantime, I'm happy to see so many of our students donating their time, volunteering and inspiring others to donate during the holidays.

To be sure, it's been an extremely busy year for KU Medical Center, and we have so much to be proud of. Meanwhile, many of us are already working to ensure a strong start to 2014.

In particular, I want to spend a few minutes this week talking about our plans for the upcoming legislative session.

As you know, we've been extremely engaged with state policymakers over the last year. Since last winter's difficult legislative session, we hosted dozens of state lawmakers for a daylong informational session on Oct. 30, which I believe was extremely beneficial for everyone. (If you are looking for the answers to legislators' questions we prepared for that visit, they're available here.) In addition, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and I, as well as Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni and others, have had many additional visits with legislators over the last several months. We look forward to a positive and productive session with our partners in the Legislature as we work together to build a healthier Kansas.

Going into the 2014 Kansas Legislative Session, the university has a very specific legislative agenda. We are seeking two things:

  • Restoration of the 2013 cuts, which fell particularly hard on the medical center.
  • Passage of the Health Education Initiative, which includes significant investment in new educational facilities in Kansas City and additional funding to expand the KU School of Medicine-Wichita program.

Although many other issues will undoubtedly arise during the session, as an institution we will remain focused like a laser beam on these two priorities.

Meanwhile, we are also keeping an eye on developments in Washington, D.C., as the challenges of sequestration will continue.

Many of you will want to help. This week, Vice Chancellor Caboni sent a message to faculty and staff about how to best engage with policymakers at the local, state and federal level. Because coordinated efforts are imperative to our success, I want to reiterate that message.

The Office of Public Affairs, headquartered on the Lawrence campus, is responsible for leading government relations activities to benefit the University of Kansas. Vice Chancellor Caboni and his team advance the interests of the university by serving as the liaison between elected officials and KU and by advocating directly in support of the university's legislative priorities.

Before engaging with an elected or appointed government official on university business, any member of our campus community - faculty, administrators, and staff - should always check in with the Public Affairs office. Additionally, if you are contacted directly by a legislator or agency, you should contact Public Affairs.

By partnering with institutional leadership across each of our campuses and affiliated organizations, as well as directly with faculty and staff, the Public Affairs office develops and executes strategies that generate support for the university's institutional priorities as articulated by the chancellor. The Public Affairs office works closely with key members of my leadership team, so the medical center is highly involved in this process.

The Public Affairs office can also provide assistance scheduling appointments with members of Congress and their staff, Kansas legislators, and representatives from government agencies. Additionally, the Public Affairs team is available to prepare faculty and staff to deliver testimony requested by committees of Congress or the Kansas Legislature.

Vice Chancellor Caboni is the point of contact for all state and local efforts; please contact him here. Jack Cline serves as KU's director of federal relations, working in Washington, D.C.; you may contact him here.

Beyond ensuring that the university speaks to all audiences with a common voice and advocates for the same institutional priorities, we also have principal responsibility for compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations concerning lobbying and advocacy. The university has adopted detailed policies which guide our efforts. These policies may be found in the university's policy library.

You can find more details about our 2014 agenda here. An overview of our state relations efforts and other helpful information is here.

To the entire KU Medical Center community, thank you for the vital work you do each day to improve the health of Kansas and all of the other ways in which you serve the state. We are working hard to make sure our legislative partners understand and appreciate the value of our common effort. Please help us make that job easier by working with the KU Public Affairs office when any legislative question or concern arises.

Last modified: Dec 06, 2013