Kansas Update: Legislature Continues Work During Session, Challenges Elsewhere
The Kansas Legislative session continued through the month of March. The session always moves much more quickly than anticipated, but some actions have been taken. The turnaround day, the final day to consider non-exempt bills in house of origin, took place on March 5, 2021. The first adjournment will be on April 9th, at which point, the legislature will only consider bills thereafter relating to those bills vetoed by the Governor.
HB 2025, would have made 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 included physical surveillance as well as electronic device applications. KCA supported the bill. Although it passed out of the committee, the bill failed on the floor of the House.
The House and Senate have moved forward with a bill meant to amend law on securing loads on vehicles to create an exemption for trucks, trailers, or semitrailers when hauling agricultural forage commodities intrastate from the place of production to a market or place of storage. The bill would state this exemption would not apply to trucks, trailers, or semitrailers hauling hay bales or other packaged or bundled forage commodities. Continuing law requires securing a load on a vehicle to prevent any of this load from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping. KCA supports the bill.
Other bills receiving attention include legislation relating to appropriations and school funding. Additionally, the legislature has debated and passed bills related to emergency response statutes, defining the Governor’s abilities to act and declare emergencies as they related to Covid-19 response.
Other Kansas news includes that all Kansas adults are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Kansas continues to make steady progress on the vaccination front – beginning March 29th it became one of 8 states opening vaccination for all adults. Although Agriculture has previously been eligible for vaccination appointments, now those less strictly associated may receive a vaccine.
Although much of Kansas has fallen in severity relating to the drought index, many counties have been fighting large wildfires. The strong winds and low relative humidity have created ripe conditions for pasture burning, as well as other causes, to allow for out-of-control situations.
Sysco is suing Tyson Foods, JBS SA, Hormel Foods Corp., and other leading pork processors in a Houston federal court, alleging an industrywide conspiracy to raise prices by laundering secret information through proprietary agricultural databases.
Exchanges of “detailed, competitively sensitive, and closely guarded nonpublic” data about “capacity, sales, volume, and demand,” including the “profits, prices, costs, and production levels” of specific companies, are a “classic” way to implement and enforce “a price-fixing scheme,” the complaint says.
In addition to Tyson, JBS, Hormel, and “information sharing service” Agri Stats Inc., the antitrust lawsuit filed by Sysco, a top food distributor, targets affiliates of Clemens Family Corp., Seaboard Corp., and Smithfield Foods Inc. The companies control approximately 80% of the U.S. pork wholesale sector.