Committee approves senator for KCC post

A Senate committee quickly approved five of Gov. Sam Brownback’s appointees Monday, including one for the Kansas Corporation Commission.

A week after the governor’s appointment, Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, received approval on Monday from the Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee hearing to become the next commissioner of the KCC.

“It is humbling and an honor to be appointed by Gov. Brownback to this place in the state government that touches every Kansan,” Apple said.

The Kansas Corporation Commission regulates rates, services and safety of the public utilities, oil and gas production, and other energy-related programs in the state.

Before being picked for KCC commissioner, Apple was chairman of the Senate Utilities Committee.

One of his former colleagues on the panel, Sen. Robert Olson, R-Olathe, expressed his confidence for Apple in his new job.

“All the years I served with you, you’ve been one of the more fair guys in this building,” Olson said. “I know you’re going to work hard for our citizens and make sure everyone is treated fair.”

If confirmed by the entire Senate body, Apple would replace Thomas Wright. Wright’s term as KCC commissioner expired March 15.

Apple will serve a four-year term that will expire in 2018.

The second confirmation of the day was David Dillon as a member of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority.

Dillon, the CEO of The Kroger Co., says he will be moving back to the Kansas City area after his retirement from the business. Dillon has lived in Ohio for the last 18 years.

Dillon has been the CEO of Kroger and the subsidiaries like Dillons grocery stores for 11 years. He already retired as CEO but will be chairman of the company until the end of the year.

“To have any opportunity to give back to the state of Kansas is an honor, and I look forward to doing it,” Dillon said.

Dillon said he has served as a board member for several other companies, including DirecTV and Kroger, and he recently joined the Union Pacific Railroad board.

Sen. Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson and chairman of the Confirmation Oversight committee, referenced Dillon’s association with Uncork Kansas, which currently is looking to expand liquor sales to grocery and convenience stores.

Dillon said he has advocated for the bill and has talked to several members of the Legislature about the topic of liquor laws, but thought it should be separate from his appointment as a member of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority.

There were three other re-appointments on the docket, which were all also confirmed by the committee.

This article was originally printed in The Topeka Capital-Journal on March 31, 2014. 


Legislators debate requiring financial literacy course

The fight over required courses for high school students wasn’t just about English and social studies on Monday.

Legislators on the House Education Committee discussed a bill that would require a personal financial literacy course for high school students.

Jack Sossoman, former Shawnee County leader of Americans For Prosperity; state Treasurer Ron Estes; and Walt Chappell, president of Education Management Consultants, answered several questions from the committee members after endorsing the legislation.

“How these kids can go out and survive without those basic math principles and understanding how the world works? We’re sending them out as sheep to the wolves,” Chappell said. “We’re sending them out for every scammer to take advantage of them and to get into hot water very quickly.”

Several of the representatives used some of their personal stories of financial literacy with their own children.

Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, said this class wouldn’t have fit into the class schedule for her son, who was taking college prep courses and a music elective.

After nearly an hour of questions for Chappell, Carol Werhan, of Pittsburg State University, provided testimony about the bill.

“Our philosophy is that personal finance must be taught contextually in order to change behavior,” Werhan said.

Werhan said family and consumer sciences teachers are the best people to teach these things. Some of the problems are getting the FACS teachers into the needed areas of the state.

Tom Krebs, a government relations specialist with the Kansas Association of School Boards, testified in opposition to the legislation.

Krebs talked about how local communities and school boards can determine what is necessary. He said it would be a mistake to make it an institutionalized process for every student because some would miss out on an art or music class in order to take financial literacy.

Mark Desetti, director of governmental affairs for the Kansas National Education Association, also testified against the bill.

“Requiring this course for a lot of kids that don’t need it is not the way to go,” Desetti said. “What we need to do is work on the standards we have and deeply assess them and make sure they are happening.”

Some high schools students were at the Capitol on Monday for K-ACTE 2014 Legislative Day for presentations on career and technical education. A few of them were open to the bill.

“I think it’s a great idea because a lot of people don’t know what to do when they get out into the real world,” Manhattan High School student Payton Gehrt said. “ If people would know how to take care of their personal finances at an young age, I think that would help them later in life.”

This story was originally published by The Topeka Capital-Journal on February 10, 2014.