2018 Legislative & Policy Watch                       Weekly E-Update
Issue No. # 4, January 26, 2018

About Policy Watch E-Updates

The Legislative and Policy Watch Weekly E-Update is a project of the Kansas Rural Center.

Editor: Mary Fund
Paul Johnson, Policy Analyst

Policy Watch Sponsors
  The Kansas Rural Center
promotes the health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy that advance an ecologically sound, economically viable,  and socially just agriculture. For more information about KRC go to
The Kansas Natural Resource Council (KNRC)
promotes environmentally responsible practices and sustainable natural resource policies to ensure the quality and abundance of these resources for future generations. For more information about our organization and programs, or how to become a member, please visit

Audubon of Kansas (AOK) is a statewide non-profit organization  established to promote appreciation and stewardship of Kansas' natural ecosystems, with special emphasis on conservation of prairies, birds, other wildlife, and habitat. For more information go to  www.audubonofkansas.org

Kansas Farmers Union is the state's oldest  active farm organization working to protect  and enhance the economic interests & quality of life for family farmers, ranchers & rural communities. For more information go to:

League of Women Voters of Kansas is a grassroots volunteer political organization with nine local chapters across Ks.. For nearly 100 years, LWVK has encouraged the informed and active participation of citizens in government. For  more information, contact  lwvk.org

Climate and Energy Project  (CEP) is a  Kansas-based non-partisan non-profit working to find practical solutions for a clean energy future. For More information go to:

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Kansas U.S. Congress
 Contact Information

Sen. Jerry Moran
DC Ofc 202-224-6521

Sen. Pat Roberts
DC Ofc  202-224-4774

Rep. Roger Marshall, 
1st Dist. 
DC Ofc: 202-225-2715

Rep. Lynn Jenkins
  2nd Dist.
DC Ofc: 202-225-6601

Rep. Kevin Yoder
 3rd Dist.
DC Ofc: 202-225-2865

Rep. Ron Estes
  4th Dist.
DC Ofc.: 202-225-6216
       by Paul Johnson 
    The key issues for the 2018 Kansas Legislative session - budget deficits and public school funding - remain stalled. The key taxation committees in the House and Senate have been rarely meeting as have the education committees. The deal making is likely going on behind closed doors. 

The Legislature has funded a special school funding cost study that will be presented in March. In an election year, revenue increases are considered toxic so the budget deficits built up over the past ten years will not be addressed. Time will tell whether the new Governor - being sworn in next Wednesday- will offer different policy leadership and strive for a broader bi-partisan consensus?   

Certain key decisions are being made. With the lobbying assistance of the Governor's former chief of staff, Kansas is pushing ahead with the construction of the largest private prison in the country at Lansing. Kansas will continue to operate the new prison but lease it for twenty years before taking ownership. In trade, the Governor agreed to scrap the next round of Medicaid (KanCare) reductions in client services involving the three private managed care companies that administer KanCare. The critical needs of mental health services, child welfare programs and even the State Water Plan remain underfunded. The battle over expanding KanCare to cover 150,000 Kansans will probably be blocked in light of the budget deficit. 

The Governor's 50-year Long-Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply in Kansas is presented in great detail by the Kansas Water Authority (KWA) and the Kansas Water Office but remains unfunded in the Governor's 2018 & 2019 budgets.

 The state taxes ($6 million) and lottery funds ($2 million) are not restored. For 2018, KWA requested an enhancement of $200,000 for the Milford Lake Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program - involving 20 additional project partners - to draw down $2.8 million from USDA/NRCS to address water quality concerns in the Milford Lake watershed. $600,000 was also requested for a Harmful Algae Bloom Pilot to test methods to control and hopefully eliminate 'harmful algae blooms (HAB's). 26 bodies of water in Kansas were issued either a watch or warning for HAB's in 2017.

For 2019, KWA requested the full $8 million in state revenues for 14 specific project proposals. One is streambank stabilization at $1 million. Estimates indicate nine streambank stabilization projects completed in 2017 will reduce the sediment load by 30,000 tons per year. 164 projects above John Redmond, Tuttle and Perry Reservoirs have been addressed but 628 remain with an estimate of reducing sediment load by over 1 million tons annually. There is a $1.8 million request for Watershed Conservation Practice Implementation and a $1 million request for irrigation technology. There are now nine active Water Conservation Areas (WCA's) in Kansas with six being approved in 2017 but these WCA's comprise only 1% of total eligible acres. There is also $200,000 requested for an evaluation of Waters Leaving the State.

KWA still supports increasing the State Water Plan (SWP) annual funding level from $25-30 million a year to $55 million by dedicating one-tenth of one cent of the existing sales tax to the SWP while capping/reducing water user fees, agricultural fees and having no 'crop irrigation gallonage' fee. While the SWP may never be fully funded, KWA has not publicly advocated increasing federal spending for conservation programs (CRP, CSP & EQIP) in the 2018 Farm Bill that would address water quality issues and sedimentation loss. (2018 Kansas Water Authority Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature: by clicking HERE .

The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) has once again requested introduction of noxious weed legislation in both the House and Senate to fundamentally change noxious weed law in Kansas. The actual bills will be available early the week of Jan. 29 and hearings will probably be held the week of February 5. 

There are many questions to be raised. If similar to the last requested bills, will the authority to declare noxious weeds be moved from the Legislature (statute) to rule and regulation under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture? What if any role will be left for the Legislature? Is pesticide law considered in this rewrite of noxious weed law? Is 'drift' defined? Can a landowner legally post their land as a 'no spray zone' and receive increased legal protection? Do County Weed Departments have special governmental liability protection from drift damage? Is Kansas a 'chemical control state' first before considering biological, cultural practices? What 'integrated pest management' research-and implementation-- is going on in Kansas? 

If there is a  'noxious weed advisory' committee advising the Secretary, how balanced and independent will this advisory committee be? If given special emergency powers for the Secretary to spray immediately, will there be any controls on this power or funding for chemical damages? Will there be a provision to establish an administrative hearing for landowners to recover damages instead of a costly/time consuming court battle? Bill information and hearing times will be reported in next week's Policy Watch. If you care about the   expansion of 'chemical trespass' in Kansas, consider providing testimony (in person or written) and discuss the noxious weed issue with your Representative and Senator.

The herbicide dicamba for soybeans and cotton will get special attention and informational hearings in Topeka. Arkansas has imposed the nation's strictest restrictions by prohibiting spraying from April 16th to October 31st.  Some 3,000 drift complaints alleging harm to non-target crops were reported to state officials in 22 states. The EPA reclassified the dicamba products as 'restricted use' and imposed additional training requirements. Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Missouri have also imposed additional restrictions and training for the 2018 growing season. Monsanto is now suing Arkansas over its law.

CEP Live Streaming Interviews
 Available & More Scheduled
       The Climate and Energy Project (CEP) is live streaming interviews with leading Kansas Advocacy organizations whose missions include one of the WEALTH topics (Water, Energy, Air, Land, Transportation, and Health). 
Tune in to CEP LIVE on Facebook every week for the latest!  The interviews will take place on Tuesdays at 2PM CST.  See schedule below.

The first two weeks are available; see links below, with more interviews to come!

CEP LIVE on Facebook Schedule
1/16/18  Dorothy Barnett, CEP;
 Click  Here  to view/listen.
1/ 23/18  Zack Pistora, Sierra Club;
   Click  HERE to view/listen;

1/30/18 Scot Anglemeyer, Ks. Association of     Community Action Agencies
2/6/18 Paul Johnson, Kansas Rural Center
2/13/18 Spotlight on Integrated Voter Engagement
2/20/18 Jessica Lucas, Clean Energy Business     Council
2/27/18 A Visit to the Statehouse 101
3/6/18 Mitzi McFatrich, Kansas Advocates for       Better Care
3/13/18 Dawn Buehler, Friends of the KAW


2018 WEALTH   (Water, Energy, Air, Land, Transportation, and Health)  Day of Education and Advocacy at the Capitol   March 15 , 2018. 

This week the Kansas Department of Health & Environment requested legislation to change animal conversion units so that clusters of chicken houses with over 100,000 birds can be sited much closer to neighboring properties (4,000 feet down to 1,360 feet). 

As state law is currently written, the number of birds is restricted by set back distances from neighbors. This is  a move in opening the state up  to contract poultry production and processing. More on this next week.
The Ethics Commission was established in 1974 to monitor and regulate candidate and lobbying expenses as established in law by the Kansas Legislature. The Commission is a nine member non-partisan board appointed by the Governor and key policy leaders. Mark Skoglund is the new staff director taking over from Carol Williams who was with the Commission since its founding. There are 8 employees and a budget of $602,000.

The 2017 Annual Report is available on the website: ethics.kansas.gov. In 2016, there were 704 state candidates, 1,353 local candidates, 226 political action committees and 188 party committees. There were 104 State Senate candidates that raised $6.8 million in contributions and spent $6.1 million. There were 37 contested Senate races and 3 uncontested. 27% of the contributions came from individuals while 24% came from PAC's and 19% from out-of-state. There were 205 House candidates that raised $5.8 million and spent $4.7 million. There were 551 registered lobbyists representing 1,469 organizations. Lobbyists spent just over $1 million. These candidate contributions do not include unaffiliated, third party groups with 'dark money' that shield their identity.

Kansas' lawmakers are concerned over the safety of the voter Interstate Crosscheck database administered by the Kansas Secretary of State. This system was developed in 2005 as a partnership between Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska to identify voters who had moved but neglected to cancel their voter registration. By 2017, there were 28 participating states. In 2017 municipal elections, 140,000 voters in Kansas may have been registered in at least one other state by looking at names and birth dates but on second review, fewer than 20 were found to have voted in more than one state. There were concerns over liability to the State of Kansas if this system were ever breached.

House Bill 2333 would create law requiring manual audits of elections. This bill would allow the county election officer to move the canvass for elections held on a Tuesday to any business day not later than 13 days after any election. This bill also would prohibit any board of county commissioners from acquiring any direct recording electronic voting system after the effective date of the bill unless the voting system provided a paper record of each vote and could be tested both before an election and prior to the canvass date. The audit portion was amended and limited to just two contested races: one federal and one state legislative race. There is debate over whether this law would be implemented in time for the 2018 fall elections?


Kansas News Service covers the politics of Kansas with particular interest on health and social service issues. Right now they are reporting on: Secretary of State taking public records off the website, a profile of the new Governor Jeff Colyer, poor families struggling with Kansas Welfare Rules, changes to Medicaid, tenure for public teachers and the transparency of Kansas Government. Some of the best in-depth reporting in Kansas with high quality journalists -- http://kcur.org/term/kansas-news-service#stream/0 

LOUD LIGHT is a sunshine effort by Davis Hammet to cover the Kansas Legislature by producing three minute weekly video's and special reports. When you go to the LOUD LIGHT website www.loudlight.org click on the three bars in the top right corner, click on Ks Legislature to see the weekly
 three minute video reports. There is also a terrific video on the Kansas budget: 'Budget Crisis Explained'. 

On Tuesday January 30, Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources will take final action on SB 263 - research on industrial hemp. 

On Thursday February 1, this committee will have an informational hearing on Poultry Production by KSU. 

On Thursday February 1, the Senate Assessment and Taxation committee will hold a hearing on SCR 1604 - constitutional amendment lowering rate of sales tax on food. 

On Tuesday - Jan. 30 and Wednesday - Jan. 31, the Senate Ways and Means committee will hold hearings on SB 300 - prohibiting substantial change to Medicaid without prior legislative approval.

For a complete House and Senate calendar: www.kslegislature.org
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In 2018, KRC is partnering with the  Kansas Natural Resource Council   (KNRC), 
Audubon of Kansas (AOK),  Kansas Farmers Union (KFU), League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVK), and Climate and Energy Policy (CEP)  to send Policy Watch to their members. We thank them for their support.  

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   If you have any questions about Policy Watch, contact Mary Fund, editor at mfund@kansasruralcenter.org, or contact Paul Johnson at pdjohnson@centurylink.net


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