Beam Confirmed As Kansas Ag Secretary

April 8, 2019

The Kansas Senate confirmed Mike Beam as Kansas agriculture secretary April 5. Prior to the vote by the full Senate, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously recommended Beam’s confirmation. KLA signed a letter drafted by the Kansas Agricultural Alliance supporting Beam’s nomination in both the committee and the full Senate. In his role as acting secretary and now secretary, the former KLA senior vice president is leading the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the more than 300 employees who work for the agency. 

Also at the Capitol last week, the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee met multiple times to deliberate on differences in the budget, but did not come to an agreement. Budget negotiations now will be delayed until the veto session, which starts May 1. Both the Senate and House 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.After meeting several times in a conference committee last week, the Senate and House agreed to and passed Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan for K-12 education finance. The plan puts roughly $92 million of additional funding into the K-12 budget for the 2020 fiscal year. Members of the House attempted to negotiate a lower amount, but eventually adopted the Senate position, which was Gov. Kelly’s plan.

HB 2248 was sent to a conference committee and placed into SB 63 with a number of other transportation bills. SB 63 now would allow all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles to cross state and federal highways. It also would allow farmers and ranchers limited use on state and federal highways for agricultural purposes. The ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee refused to concede to the Senate position giving farmers more access to state and federal highways. This required both the House and Senate to pass a procedural motion called an “agree to disagree” to allow each body to consider the conference committee report. SB 63 passed the House on final action Friday (4/5) with a vote of 121-20. The Senate will take up the bill during the veto session in May.    

Bills carrying association healthcare plans (AHP) and the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) health benefit plan were repackaged into HB 2209. This bill also required the procedural “agree to disagree” motion. Both the House and Senate passed the conference committee report carrying the AHP and KFB plan late last week. The Senate passed the report with a veto-proof majority of 28-12. The House passed it with a veto-proof majority of 84-39.