Last week, the deadline to introduce bills by individual legislators and non-exempt committees spurred a significant increase in bill introductions. In addition, KLA members met for the 2019 KLA Legislative Meeting, February 13. Numerous bills were discussed, with members giving staff marching orders on two.
Making livestock running at large a criminal offense - Members supported a recommendation to the KLA Board of Directors to oppose HB 2271, which would make livestock running at large a criminal offense rather than a civil offense. If a livestock owner had livestock at large three or more times in a 30-day period that landowner could be convicted of an unclassified misdemeanor. The fine would be $50 for the first offense and $150 for any subsequent offense. The bill also would clarify the current law, which states law enforcement officers have the authority to take up livestock at large when they are on a highway. Finally, it would give all law enforcement officers, not just sheriffs, authority to take up livestock running at large. The KLA Board approved a directive to oppose this bill.
Crossing state and federal highways with ATVs - HB 2248 would allow ATVs to cross federal and state highways if they separate property owned or leased by the same person. The KLA Board approved a directive to testify in support of this bill and offer an amendment to expand its scope to include UTVs.
The following bills also were discussed at the legislative meeting:
Bonding requirements for animals seized - HB 2206 would change the bonding requirements for animals taken into custody under a violation of Kansas’ cruelty to animals law. Current law requires a 30-day bond to be filed in the county where animals are seized to prevent a court from transferring ownership upon a request to do so from a prosecutor or animal shelter. Current law, however, does not specify how animal care costs should be handled after the initial 30-day bond has expired. This bill would require the bond to be renewed every 30 days to prevent a transfer of ownership until the court issues a decision in the case.
Sales tax exemption for fencing - HB 2267 would create a new sales tax exemption for the construction, repair and replacement of any fence used to enclose land devoted to agriculture.
County constitutional home rule - HCR 5007 would give county governments constitutional home rule authority. Home rule authority is a measure of the amount of autonomy a local government has to make decisions without state oversight. Counties, unlike cities, do not have a constitutional right to home rule. Instead, the Legislature defines county authority in statute. This has been a significant protection for agriculture, as in the past, counties have tried to enact more stringent environmental and zoning laws than allowed by state law. Granting counties home rule authority would eliminate these protections. KLA will oppose this bill.
Sedgwick county nuisance abatement - HB 2238 would give Sedgwick County the authority to declare existing property conditions a nuisance and initiate abatement proceedings to require a landowner to repair or demolish things deemed a nuisance. It also would give the county specific authority to drain ponds. KLA will oppose this bill.