By MIKE CORN
TOPEKA -- The Kansas Senate, without objection Monday, gave first-round approval to a bill naming two state fossils. Under normal procedure, the Senate should give final approval to the bill when it meets this afternoon.
The bill had been on the Senate's consent calendar, but mysteriously was put back on general orders, forcing it to go through a more structured approval process.
Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, recommended the bill's initial approval by the Senate as a whole. He reminded members the bill initially had been viewed as lacking any controversy.
"I think somebody pulled it off because they thought I couldn't pronounce the names," Ostmeyer said of the measure naming the Tylosaurus as the state's marine fossil and the Pteranodon as the official flying fossil.
Ostmeyer said he practiced all night to prepare for Monday's pronunciation, a comment that prompted laughter in the background.
Mike Everhart said Ostmeyer did a good job in pronouncing the names of the two proposed state fossils.
The move to pull the three-paragraph bill from the consent calendar has set off a behind-the-scenes mini firestorm pitting legislators against students, specifically a 4-H'er from Scott County and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer's daughter, both of whom testified in favor of the bill before Ostmeyer's Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Everhart, adjunct curator of paleontology at Sternberg Museum of Natural History, also testified, urging passage of the bill.
The bill passed the Kansas House in late February by a 96-27 vote.