Governor Kelly Signs Bipartisan Bills Honoring Kansas History

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today signed Senate Bill 39, a bipartisan bill directing the Capitol Preservation Committee to develop and approve plans for a mural honoring the 1st Kansas Colored Voluntary Infantry Regiment. This bill allows a project started more than 20 years ago to finally be completed.

“It is well past time we pay tribute to the contributions the 1st Kansas Colored Voluntary Infantry Regiment made to Kansas and to our country as they fought valiantly to defeat slavery,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Once this mural is complete, all who enter the Statehouse will be reminded of the sacrifice and service these soldiers made for our nation’s progress.”

The 1st Kansas Colored Voluntary Infantry Regiment holds a distinctive significance as Kansas was the first northern state to recruit, train, and send Black soldiers into combat during the Civil War.

“This mural is about honoring those who gave their last full measure of devotion and ultimate sacrifice to serving the United States of America,” Representative Valdenia Winn, Kansas House District 34 and member of the Capitol Preservation Committee, said. “A mural honoring this Regiment will not only honor the sacrifices of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry but will also further recognize Kansas’ role in holding the Union together. This story and its inspiration are more relevant than ever today – and long overdue.”

“After more than 20 years of work in various committees, the Capitol Preservation Committee can, in earnest, begin fundraising and the process of finding the artist with the best vision to honor this important military regiment in the Statehouse,” Senator Elaine Bowers, Kansas Senate District 36 and member of the Capitol Preservation Committee, said.

Governor Kelly also signed Senate Bill 11, a bipartisan bill reauthorizing the placement of a life-size version of the “Ad Astra” sculpture on Kansas Capitol grounds.

“The Ad Astra project became a Capitol Preservation Committee priority project over the last two years. Finally, the 8’2” Ad Astra sculpture will find its home on the pedestal, which has been empty for way too long,” Senator Bowers said.

“‘To the stars through difficulties,’ our state motto, embodies everything we are as Kansans. We have grit, drive, an eye for a better future, for freedom, and for exploration. The creation of this statue will remind us of our core values and keep them centered in everything we do here,” Representative Winn said.

“I am delighted with the passage of Senate Bill 11, which enables fundraising to begin so that the Ad Astra Plaza project can be completed,” Former State Senator Randall Hardy said. ”Work on the Ad Astra Plaza on the Statehouse grounds was left unfinished after the Ad Astra Statue was placed on the Statehouse dome in 2002. This bill sets us on the path to seeing this project become a reality.”

“As one of the legislators who authored the creation of the Capitol Preservation Committee, I am pleased to see the bipartisan support for both the mural honoring the First Colored Infantry Division and the reauthorization of placing the Ad Astra statue on the Statehouse grounds,” Former Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said. “Moving these projects forward preserves and tells the story of Kansas’ importance in our nation’s history, just like the Brown v Board mural on the third floor outside the old Supreme Court Room.”

More information about SB 39 can be found here.

More information about SB 11 can be found here.