By John Celock
The leader of a group advocating for expanded programs for college sports programs for disabled athletes is asking Kansas legislative candidates for their support.
Rob Egan, the president of the American Collegiate Society for Adapted Athletics, is asking legislative candidates in the state’s 165 House and Senate districts to commit to backing legislation to create adaptive sports programs at colleges in the state. The push comes months after Egan worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in an unsuccessful effort to push a bill creating programs at colleges in the state.
“If we can get at least one candidate for every seat to sign that would be incredible. That would be a real a solid bar to set,” Egan told The Celock Report. “Hopefully in some seats multiple candidates are signing. So hopefully come November we have a lot of people ready to draft that bill.”
Egan, who is doing the pledge drive on his own and not through the group, said that he wants to be able to rally a group of lawmakers who will be able to work on the legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January of next year. He believes the pledges, which highlight the impact of his bill would allow for legislative candidates to show support and for voters to know which candidates are backing adaptive athletics.
Egan said the bill would have some changes next year. The version of the bill that was introduced earlier this year would have allowed for a voluntary tax check-off system for Kansas taxpayers to donate to a state fund to help pay for the programs at colleges. The funds from the contribution box would be combined with funds from the individual colleges.
Egan said the 2017 version of the bill will have a change in the funding mechanism. In the new version drunk driving fines in the state will be increased with the new money going to pay for the adaptive athletics programs at colleges statewide. He said the change came after he discussed the future of the bill with his legislative allies.
“It is only harming those people who choose break the law. That makes it more sellable politically I think,” he said.
Egan also said that the change made sense since some of the college students who would be participating in adaptive athletics, ended up disabled from drunk driving related accidents.
“It is so often that we hear stories of people who are victims of drunk driving accidents who become paralyzed,” Egan said. “Even some of the players I have worked with have been involved in accidents like that. I think there is some justice for those people in funding a program like this.”