Senate gives final approval to fossil bill
By MIKE CORN
TOPEKA -- Kansas is just a signature away from having a pair of state fossils, and Gov. Sam Brownback has indicated to supporters his willingness to sign the bill.
The only question now is when and where the bill will be signed.
The Kansas Senate on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to a measure naming the Tylosaurus as the state's marine fossil and the Pteranodon as the state's flying fossil.
Someone in the Senate, however, pulled the measure from a three-day fast track schedule, making it look like it might be headed for trouble.
No one debated the issue, and no one voted against the bill Monday during first-round approval or when the Senate took final action Tuesday.
Mike Everhart was delighted at the news of the 40-0 vote Tuesday, a day after he traveled to Topeka to sit behind Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell.
Ostmeyer turned to Everhart on Monday afternoon, just as he prepared to head to the front of the Senate chambers and recommend passage of the measure, and asked once again how to pronounce both species.
"I think somebody pulled it off because they thought I couldn't pronounce the names," Ostmeyer said of the measure being pulled off the fast track calendar.
"Great," said Everhart, adjunct curator of paleontology as Sternberg Museum of Natural History. "I'm fired up."
Everhart decided to make the trip from Wichita to Topeka on Monday to see the process firsthand, and to gauge support for the bill.
As president-elect of the Kansas Academy of Science, Everhart was pushing up against the deadline for getting T-shirts printed in time for an April 4 meeting of the group.
He wanted shirts that depict the state's fossils, but he didn't want to order the shirts without some indication the measure actually would move forward.
The group's annual meeting is April 4 and 5 in Emporia.
"I put the order in this morning," Everhart said. "Hopefully, they all will be done before the fifth of April."
Lawrence fossil collector Alan Detrich also was pleased by the Senate's action, and said Brownback said he will sign the bill in his ceremonial office underneath a Mosasaur on loan to the state.
Everhart, however, said he'd be delighted if Brownback decided instead to travel to Emporia and sign the bill during the annual meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science, perhaps the second oldest group of its type in the nation.
The Kansas Academy of Science, he said, was formed in 1868,
Everhart said he might even be willing to give Brownback one of the T-shirts if the bill's signed during the group's meeting.
A spokesman for the governor's office was noncommittal, saying the bill had not yet been received and no signing ceremony had been planned.
The measure is being well-received in the Capitol, however.
Lt. Jeff Colyer, whose daughter testified in favor of the bill, already told Everhart he'd like to display Pteranodon remains in an adjacent office, one frequently used for photographs with children.