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Over 300 people, many of them teachers, turned out to voice their concerns about bills pending in the Kansas Legislature dealing with school funding, collective bargaining and other issues.
The forum was held Saturday at the National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita. There were 17 House and Senate members from south central Kansas who appeared at the forum.
Many of the speakers voiced opposition to a proposed change in the state constitution that would give the Kansas Legislature sole authority to decide how much funding should be provided to public schools, essentially taking that authority away from the courts. Republican House member Jim Howell of Derby and Democratic representative Nile Dillmore of Wichita said after the forum that they don't expect the bill to make it through the House.
Speakers also raised concerns about bills they say would attack collective bargaining for public employees, including teachers, policemen and firefighters.
Other speakers urged lawmakers to seek action that would allow medical use of marijuana. Some had concern about a bill that would merge the Kansas Turnpike Authority with the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The two-hour forum was the first of three forums that will be held by the south central Kansas legislative delegation. The next forum will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 23 at the Wichita State University Metroplex at 29th and Oliver. The final forum is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6 at the Derby City Hall.