Both legislative chambers were busy trying to complete work on non-exempt bills prior to first adjournment on April 9. Below is an update on a few of the bills KLA is following.
Kansas State University ag economist briefing - The House Ag Committee hosted K-State agricultural economist Glynn Tonsor for an informational briefing on beef and cattle markets. Tonsor was invited to speak following a presentation last week from Kansas Beef Council Executive Director Kevin Thielen. He discussed price fluctuations during COVID-19 due to consumer demand changes and processing plant disruptions, future cattle inventory changes and the forecast for cattle prices in 2021. He also highlighted the importance of export markets and how beef imports are used in the supply chain.
Omnibus tax - The Senate concurred with House amendments to SB 50, a tax bill that would include authority for the state to apply sales tax to internet sales, allow unlimited net loss to be carried forward, extend the due date for corporate tax returns, increase the standard deduction by $500 for individual and married filers and adjust state income tax laws in response to the federal tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The fiscal note on SB 50 is slightly more than $90 million in FY 2022. The bill now will be considered by Gov. Laura Kelly, who previously vetoed two similar bills.
Prohibiting certain private property surveillance - HB 2025, a KLA-supported bill that would have restricted Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) law enforcement from surveilling private property without a warrant, exigent circumstances, or landowner consent, failed in the House. This was after KDWPT staff led a strong lobbying campaign misleading legislators that the bill would impede their ability to act in the case of a missing person and hinder their ability to enforce the “Hunting with Written Permission Only” program. Under current law, KDWPT enforcement officers can enter private farm and ranch land without a warrant or reasonable cause. The bill was a reaction to a case in Tennessee where wildlife officials secretly entered private land and installed a game camera to surveil the landowner. Wildlife officials later arrested the landowner for theft when he found and removed the camera. KLA members who support HB 2025 should call their legislator to express their disappointment and explain why unrestricted access by KDWPT is an affront to their property rights.
Revocation of statewide mask mandate - The governor reissued numerous executive orders (EO) April 1 after SB 40, which reformed the emergency management laws, lapsed all previously ordered COVID-19 related EOs. One reissued order was EO 21-14, which required face masks to be worn in public places and businesses statewide. The Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC), a group of Senate and House leadership authorized by SB 40 to review EOs when the Legislature is not in session, immediately revoked the mask mandate. The LCC action was buoyed by nonbinding resolutions passed by both the House and Senate urging the group to revoke any mask mandate reissued by the governor. It is important to note that local government still has the authority to issue a mask mandate under local emergency disaster authority.