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Hearing set in Senate for fossil bill

3/10/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

A hearing has been set for Tuesday morning in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell.

His district includes Sternberg Museum of Natural History, and the fossil-rich counties of Gove and Logan are just out his back door.

"I needed to do something with that," Ostmeyer said of a bill designating the Tylosaurus and the Pteranodon as the state's fossils.

It's a bill that was shepherded through the Kansas House by Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton. In late February, the House passed by bill by a 96-27 margin, sending it to the Senate.

Ostmeyer's not expecting much opposition to the bill at either the committee level or when the measure appears before the entire chamber.

"This is a simple bill," he said

And, he said, "that's my district now," pointing to Sternberg in Hays.

The Tylosaurus first was collected in 1868 near Monument Rocks in Gove County. The wing bones of the first Pteranodon were collected two years later in Logan County.

While Ostmeyer said it's somewhat uncommon for a bill to make its way out of committee immediately after a hearing, he said it might happen with this bill.

"I don't anticipate any problems," he said.

Mike Everhart, adjunct curator of vertebrate paleontology at Sternberg, again plans to testify on behalf of the bill, and Ostmeyer said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer's daughters plan to testify on behalf of the bill.

"It's good when you get kids up front," Ostmeyer said.

He hopes to put it on the Senate consent calendar Tuesday afternoon, which means it could see final action Friday.

"I doubt we change it," Ostmeyer said of the language in the bill, which means it will go back to the House and then to Gov. Sam Brownback's desk for his signature.