Kansas Legislative Session Begins with Multiple Bills & Full Schedule
The Kansas Legislature began the 2021 session with the swearing-in of new members of the House and Senate, following the results of the 2020 elections. The new legislators from across the state got straight to work on the introduction of nearly 200 bills. Following two years of grid-lock on appropriations, taxation, school funding, and Covid-19, the legislature is poised to work a full-schedule of new legislative initiatives in addition to much maintenance work.
The Kansas Cattlemen’s Association actively reviews and works legislative bills throughout the session. KCA tracks legislative bills on a daily basis to determine if a position of the membership should be taken in support, opposition, or neutral stance. Upon determining a policy directive, KCA staff and leadership determine a plan to either confer with legislators directly or to provide testimony at committee hearings.
A few bill introductions caught the attention of KCA leadership early in the session. House Bill 2020 was introduced by Representative Carmichael. The bill creates a driving infraction for operating a vehicle while fatigued. The KCA Board of Directors voted to oppose this bill, on the basis that the definition of fatigue is far too vague of a description for law enforcement to legitimately determine if a driver is in fact violating the law for operating the vehicle. The bill has not yet received a hearing.
House Bill 2025 was introduced by Representative Corbet. The bill makes it unlawful for any employee of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism or county weed supervisors to conduct surveillance on private property unless authorized by a legally obtained search warrant. The bill includes physical surveillance as well as electronic device applications. The KCA Board of directors voted to support the bill.
House Bill 2032 was introduced by Representative Carmichael. The recommended changes to the bill include the addition of making it unlawful for any person to throw or cast artificial light for the purpose of spotting, locating, or taking any wildlife while having in possession or control, firearms, or other form of weapons suitable for such purpose. The bill includes the exemption for livestock producers but also calls for the voiding of all rules that offer a contrary possibility. The KCA Board of Directors voted to oppose the modifications to the legislation as proposed for reasons that 1. The modifications do not appear to improve the legislation, and 2. The modifications could possibly be voiding its own exemption of livestock agriculture.
There are multiple bills relating to tax and land valuations, daylight savings time, energy and more, however it is too early in the session to take policy positions.
The Senate has picked up bills of the previous session as well as new bill introductions. Senate Bill 38 creates a fund to assist with the cleanup of improperly disposed of pesticides. The bill received a hearing and was amended to ensure the language of the bill does not provide resources for known offenders. The bill is expected to pass the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The Agriculture Committee also had a hearing on Senate Bill 39, which updates legislation to provide authorization to the Animal Health Commissioner to recoup actual cost for calfhood tag distributions. The legislative language previously provided a fixed amount that does not accurately reflect modern costs to the department.
Other legislation proposals in the Senate or both chambers include a provision to provide road licensing of Military Surplus vehicle registrations, the Right to Earn a Living Act which would require regulators to review rules and justify their existence if the rule somehow creates barriers into business and career paths.
KCA will continue to work Legislation through the session, and report to the members on our actions taken and/or considered. You may track legislation yourself via the Kansas Legislature website at www.kslegislature.org.