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Legislative Newsletter for the second week of the 2014 Kansas Legislative Session

The first votes for the 2014 legislative session were cast on Wednesday, January
22, 2014, when the house debated the contents of the Conference Committee Report
of House Bill 2303.  This Conference Committee report was a carry-over from the 2013 legislative session and approved by the Senate but not by the House before the
conclusion of the 2013 legislative session. 

House Bill 2303 would rename the Kansas Department of Health and
Environments Driving Under the Influence Equipment Fund and Driving Under the
Influence Fund and would require the Kansas Department of Health and
Environments to establish and maintain breath alcohol programs. Additionally,
the bill would increase reinstatement fees for the first and subsequent occurrences of driving under the influence violations.  These fees for test failure convictions and
reinstatement would be increased.

This bill would also amend how total revenue generated from these fees would be
distributed.  There would be a separate distribution of fees from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2017, and then a different distribution of the fees from July 1, 2017, and on.

The bill would also require that each of these funds earn interest based on each
fund’s average daily balance for the preceding month and the net earnings rate
of the Pooled Money Investment Portfolio for the preceding month.

During Conference Committee between the House and Senate, the Conference Committee further amended the percentages each fund would receive, placed a four-year sunset on
fees going to the Judicial Branch’s Non-Judicial Salary Adjustment Fund and set
the percentages the remaining funds would receive after the sunset date.

Final action in the House Chamber took place on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, and the
Conference Committee for House Bill 2303 passed the House of Representatives,
109 to 11.

This week marked the first full week that we met in our respective committees.  In Federal and State Affairs Committee, a bill was introduced to expand the state owned casinos in the state of
Kansas.  The bill would create a fifth zone for a gambling establishment in the Junction City or Manhattan areas.  We also heard bill testimony on House Bill 2431, which addresses the regulation of knives by municipalities.
 
In the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, we received a report from the
judicial council regarding changes to the current Kansas statute regarding
corporate farming.  Last session, on the last day that non-exempt committees could hold bill hearings, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee listened to testimony and worked the bill that would expand corporate farming in the state of Kansas.  After much deliberation and amendments to the original bill, the committee voted to table the bill and have it referred to judicial council to ensure that all the details of the bill would be valid and
would be deemed constitutional according to the US Constitution.  We received the report back from the judicial council and they concluded that there are certain aspects of Kansas’ current
corporate farming laws that could be deemed unconstitutional under the Dormant
Commerce Clause.  In order to comply with the US Constitution and, namely, the Dormant Commerce Clause, there will need to be minor wording changes made to strengthen the state’s corporate farming laws in case the statute is ever to be challenged.

On Thursday, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had an informational
hearing on animal health and a performance report on the Upper Arkansas River
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.  Dr. Bill Brown, Kansas Livestock Commissioner and with the Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, provided the briefing on animal health that covered a wide array of animal health issues.  Those animal health issues included branding, animal facilities inspections, animal disease traceability and emergency
preparedness.  He also discussed the current initiatives of the Department of Agriculture such as the US Department of Agriculture veterinary services reorganization, the physical move of the
Kansas Department of Agriculture from Topeka to Manhattan and increasing the
technological capabilities of the department, such as, USAHerds, electronic certificate of veterinary inspections and an online brand book.

Steve Frost, Department of Agriculture, Division of Conservation, provided us with a
report regarding the Upper Arkansas River Conservation Reserve Enhancement
Program, otherwise referred to as CREP.  He contended that the purpose of this program by the Department of Agriculture is to conserve and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.  This is a voluntary, incentive based program that allows producers to enroll irrigated acres in the eligible areas of the state of Kansas.  He stated that the benefits of the program are as follows: 
31,965 acre-feet of annual water rights have been permanently retired,
protective conservation covers have been provided on 15,765 acres of highly
erodible soils, 63,060 tons of soil erosion reduction has been implemented,
wildlife habitat enhancement and associated recreational opportunities are
being developed, annual energy savings of 7,301,700 kW have been achieved,
damage compensation monies from KS v. CO have been put to use and provide real
benefits to the water users who suffered deprivations from water shortages
incurred by the state of Colorado and $24 million in direct payments will be
circulated through area local economies to replace reduction in crop production
that are being reduced to achieve water savings. 

Last week, Senator Elaine Bowers and I met with individuals from the Kansas
Department of Transportation regarding the closure of the rest areas on
Interstate 70 between Bunker Hill and Russell, Kansas.  Although it was already predetermined that the facilities would close, Senator Bowers and I did negotiate with them to
retain the parking area.  KDOT agreed and informed us that beginning in March the rest areas will be closed to raze the buildings, then the parking area will reopen shortly thereafter.  The main reason as to why the Kansas Department of Transportation decided to close these facilities, and two west of Junction City, is due to rising costs to the department and water usage.  Before the conclusion of the meeting, I inquired about the Highway 281 project from Russell to K-18 and they indicated that right now they will begin that project in 2018.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672 or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov.  It is an honor to serve the 109th
Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate the perspectives from the residents of the 109th House District and the state of Kansas, as well.


Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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