Gun exemption for KU hospital stalls in House committee

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- KU Hospital administrators have been doing whatever they can to keep guns out of this hospital without having to install expensive security measures.

When it became clear that a broader bill that also included state universities might not pass, KU hospital administrators lobbied the legislature for their own bill, which after two days of debate is now stuck in committee.

Feb. 2, the administrators of the University of Kansas Health System testified in front of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee in an effort to get a permanent exemption from the conceal carry law, which ends June 30.

Because of the committee's rejection, KU hospital will have to let anyone carry guns into the hospital, or set up expensive security measures such as armed guards and metal detectors at every entrance to make sure no one is coming into the hospital armed.

No one from KU hospital agreed to be interviewed on the subject, but did send out a video of President and CEO Bob Page, produced by the hospital's media department.

"The cost to secure this campus is an astronomical cost, and I will tell you that we will do whatever we need to do secure this campus, but every dollar we spend, in addition to what we're already doing today, takes money away from patients. It takes money away from patient care, and quite frankly, it's an inexcusable decision that we would have to make that over taking care of the patients that we're responsible for their care," Page said in the video.

The hospital has not released the amount of money it would take to secure the premises.

The House Committee Chairman John Barker refused to cast his vote, which would have broken the 11-11 tie.

During the two-day debate, lawmakers argued over safety and rights, and proposed amendments to expand the KU hospital bill to other public hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing homes, but that failed on a voice vote.

That's not great news for KU. The bill is not dead yet; there are other gun measures that have been floated around the committee and talked about, but have not yet been voted on.

The bill will stay in play until the end of the session. The last day for the committee to act is Monday.