Lawmakers debated bills on the House and Senate floors last week prior to the deadline for nonexempt bills to pass the second house. Several are of interest to KLA members.
ATVs/UTVs on state highways - HB 2248 passed the Senate on a 39-0 vote. As amended by the Senate Transportation Committee, the bill would allow all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility vehicles (UTVs) to cross state and federal highways. The bill also would allow the vehicles to be driven on state and federal highways, as long as the highway has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour or less, the operator has a valid driver’s license and the use is for agricultural purposes only. The bill now must either be approved by the House or placed into a conference committee to resolve the differences. KLA is urging legislators in the House to concur with the Senate amendments, which were the result of a compromise between agricultural interests and state and local regulators.
Deer tags - KLA’s bill to allow transferable deer tags (HB 2167) suffered defeat last week in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee when committee members voted to replace its content with language to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. Despite support from farmers and ranchers, KLA faced an uphill battle in the committee as certain deer hunting groups, as well as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, engaged in an active misinformation campaign against the bill.
CattleTrace - The Kansas House and Senate began conferencing on the budget. Both the Senate and House budget bills include the recommended budget enhancement of $250,000 for the second year of the CattleTrace disease traceability pilot project in the Kansas Department of Agriculture budget. KLA expects the enhancement to remain in the compromise budget.
Health insurance plans - The KLA Board of Directors voted last week to support three health insurance bills. HB 2054 would allow associations to offer health insurance plans to members and their employees in one large insurance pool. Association health plans (AHPs) would be compliant with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning the plans would cover pre-existing conditions. AHPs also could be sold to association members who live outside Kansas. Although ACA compliant, it is estimated these plans still could have significant premium savings. HB 2054, a bill exempt from the regular session deadlines, passed the House last week and is eligible for Senate consideration. SB 32 is a bill that would allow Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) to offer its members a non-insurance healthcare benefit plan. The KFB plan would not be ACA-compliant, meaning KFB would have greater latitude in defining what types of health conditions and coverage levels the plan would include. It should result in greater premium savings for plan participants than ACA-compliant plans. SB 32 passed the Senate, but was tabled in the House Insurance Committee after adverse amendments were added to the bill. Finally, HB 2143 combines the above two bills. Also an exempt bill, it was passed out of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and is eligible for Senate consideration. KLA staff will advocate for passage of these bills going forward.