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As you may recall during the 2020 Kansas legislative session, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association (KARA) helped ensure passage of the short line rail improvement fund into the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Plan resulting in a three-year $15 million program that provides 70 percent state money to 30 percent investment by the eligible entity for improvements. In October of 2020, 13 projects were awarded grants totaling $5 million. Four projects were awarded to short line railroads and nine projects were awarded to shippers. Effective July 1, 2021, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) will...

Week 11 of the Kansas Legislative Session Several days of floor debate by both chambers and final action for most committees made for a full week in the legislature. Much time was spent debating various bills, including a bill allowing regulated energy providers to bond long-term debt; and House Resolution 5015 urging the United States Congress to reject the “For the People Act of 2021.” Next week will bring additional floor debate on bills before the first adjournment on Friday, April 9. The legislature will then take a three-week break before returning...

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will host a free informational webinar focused on updates to the H–2A guest worker program including CDL requirements for custom harvesting and farm employees. The webinar will take place virtually on April 7, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. This educational webinar will information on current legislation concerning the U.S. Department of Labor’s H–2A program for temporary agricultural employment of foreign workers via the Farm Worker Modernization Act. The webinar also will provide insight on the process and necessary documentation needed for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)...

Week Ten of the Kansas Legislative Session There was a sense of urgency within the Kansas Legislature this week as the House and Senate continued hearing bills received from the opposite chamber in addition to introducing or taking action on controversial legislation. The House introduced two big-ticket items, including: a House Concurrent Resolution intended to protect Kansans from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and House Bill 2434 which prohibits the employment of unauthorized aliens and requires employers to use the E-Verify program. In addition, Governor Laura Kelly announced that on March 22 the state will move forward into both phase three and four of the COVID-19 vaccine prioritization plan. Finally, the...

Week Nine of the Kansas Legislative Session This was a short week in the Kansas Legislature, with the House and Senate returning to committee work on Wednesday. Highlights for this week include the swearing in of a new Senator Ron Ryckman Sr., from Southwest Kansas (father of House Speaker Ron Ryckman, Jr.), additional committee work on the state budget, and passage on final action of a property tax transparency bill that will now be sent to Governor Laura Kelly. Next week will bring hearings on many bills passed by the opposite chamber....

The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Board will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 19, 2021, via teleconference. The advisory board will discuss changes and modifications for the Kansas Commercial Industrial Hemp Program rules and regulations based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule on the establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program. The meeting is open to the public. Individuals who want to call in to the meeting should contact Braden Hoch, industrial hemp supervisor of the plant protection and weed control program, at Braden.Hoch@ks.gov. Persons who...

Following historic increases in natural gas prices during the February polar vortex, many Kansas municipalities faced gas bills that unpayable. The municipalities risked losing access to natural gas within days if they did not pay their bills. In response, the legislature quickly passed a bill this week to provide $100 million in low-interest loans to Kansas municipalities to help spread out the cost of their natural gas bills over time. House Sub for Senate Bill 88 establishes a low-interest loan program which allows cities to apply to the State Treasurer for...

Week Eight of the Kansas Legislative Session This week was Turnaround - the initial deadline for each chamber to pass its own bills. Any bill not passed by the full House or Senate this week is now dead for the year, unless it was introduced in one of a few select committees. This means that the House and Senate spent much of the week on the floor debating bills that had advanced favorably from committees, including expanded sports gambling, and emergency passage of a bill to provide municipalities with financial assistance...

During the recent polar vortex over the Midwest, natural gas prices increased dramatically. Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association (KARA) has been in contact with the Kansas Congressional Delegation, Kansas Dept. of Agriculture and the state's legislative leadership on this looming issue. Available via the buttons to the left are a few documents KARA has received from Governor Laura Kelly's staff through Kansas Dept. of Agriculture, to include a letter the Governor and the Kansas Corporation Commission sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on February 19, 2021. Although the exact extent of...

Week Seven of the Kansas Legislative Session This week marked the close of hearings on most bills in their chamber of origin. Next week is the Turnaround Day for bills, which means that the House and Senate will be busy most of the week with floor debate on bills that were advanced favorably from Committees. Any bill that is not passed by the full House or Senate will be dead for the year, unless it was introduced in one of a few select committees. This week was filled with high-profile issues,...

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