I would like to thank Alan Deines, director of the new Robbins Banking Institute and W.R. Robbins founder of the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Fort Hays State University, for a presentation to the Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee last Thursday. In 2017, FHSU began offering the only extensive banking curriculum in Kansas. FHSU is one of the few universities offering banking classes. The focus of the curriculum is on commercial banking with additional coursework in agricultural lending. Kansas banking industry assets were estimated at $70 billion, and they employ 15,000 people. It is estimated the age of one-half of the bank employees is 55 years or older. The industry continues to grow, requiring additional employees regardless of age. With this information, this course will provide many opportunities for those interested in a banking career.

The hearing on the amusement ride bill went well. The original Kansas Amusement Ride Act was passed in April 2017 as SB 70. The bill was intended to provide quality assurance that amusement rides were safe and regularly inspected. The bill regulates inspections, insurance and fees. Our bill, SB 307, would provide various new regulations that would benefit small county and town fairs in Kansas. One proposed change would update the definition of a home-owned amusement ride to, “be owned and operated by a nonprofit, community-based organization that is operated less than 20 days in a year and operated at only one location per year.” The bill will decrease regulations for small amusement rides while continuing to ensure the quality and safety of rides for Kansans. This bill will be worked in committee this week and should come to the floor either this week or next week for a vote.

After several hours of debate, SB 285 passed the Senate chamber and now will be worked on by the House. This bill sets up a committee to study and make recommendations for a new 10-year transportation plan. Much of the debate centered around the people who will serve on this task force.

Town hall meetings are being scheduled for the end of February. We have scheduled dates, but locations for these meetings have not been determined as of today. I appreciate Farm Bureau for organizing the town hall meetings. The dates are:

• Feb. 23 — Ellis, Phillipsburg, Norton, Hill City and WaKeeney.

• Feb. 24 — Colby, Hoxie, Quinter, Oakley and Sharon Springs.

• Feb. 26 — Goodland, St. Francis, Atwood and Oberlin.

Being a page at the Capitol is a wonderful experience. If you have a middle school or high school student interested in being a page, contact my office assistant, Donna, at (785) 296-7399.

Sen. Rick Billinger, R-Goodland, represents the 40th District in the Kansas Senate.