Kansas Rural Center Action Alerts
Below is the most recent installment of KRC's
Policy Watch E-Updates.
Previous editions, covering the 2011 and 2012
Kansas State Legislative Session and federal Farm Bill actions,
can be read here.
KRC will offer Policy Watch Weekly E-Updates
throughout the State of Kansas Legislative Session January -May,
and provide information of the federal farm bill throughout its
renewed debate and discussion in 2013. The Updates are available
to those who have contributed to KRC in 2012 or 2013. (Or this
year, the Kansas Natural Resource
Council is also making them available to its members.)
Paul Johnson, former lobbyist for a consortium of church groups,
is working for a third year for KRC. He will offer information and
analysis on state legislation affecting food and farming,
marketing and food safety, natural resources, energy, and economic
issues such as the overall budget process, school finance, and
other merging issues of interest to rural Kansans and anyone
interested in a sustainable future for Kansas.
If you have already signed up for the Weekly Updates, we thank
These reports are available to all contributors
to the Kansas Rural Center. A donation of $35 is suggested.
You may register to receive the weekly E-Updates
or by contacting
Mary Fund at 785-873-3431 or
To see previous E-Updates, click
KANSAS RURAL CENTER
WEEKLY E-UPDATE #5
FEBRUARY 15, 2013
by Paul Johnson
In This Edition:
- Tax Battle Part III
- Budget Deliberations on Speed Dial
- Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards
- Local Enhanced Management Areas
- More Climate Science Presentations
- Kansas Bioscience Authority
- Legislative Notes
- Legislative Roundtable Feb. 21
- Federal Farm Bill
To Contact Your Kansas Congressman, State
Representative or Senator, and for links to more information,
WELCOME to KRC's Weekly E-Report on agriculture, local foods
Tax Battles- Part III
The tax battle continues on slowly. This week the Senate Taxation
committee voted out an amended version of the Governor's Tax plan
- SB 78. The House Taxation committee debated the Governor's tax
plan for several days, but no consensus could be found on
maintaining the state sales tax at 6.3% or the elimination of the
mortgage interest deduction; thus no House version has made it out
The Senate will debate SB 78 on the floor of the Senate next week
with multiple amendments expected. It is unclear what version has
the 21 votes necessary for passage.
The political games on tax policy may well last the whole session.
The 'mega-tax' bill that passed last year had a few technical
errors and unintended consequences. The full House passed HB 2059
to clean up the errors and eliminate an unintended tax on banks.
The fiscal note on this bill is the loss of $10 million in revenue
The Senate has now decided to move HB 2059 to the Senate Taxation
committee as a back-up plan if the House will not pass any version
of the Governor's tax plan. HB 2059 could be amended with tax
revenues and sent back to the House for an up or down vote if the
Speaker of the House would allow such a vote.
Right now the Governor's tax plan raises $550 million in new
revenues over two years but reduces income taxes by only $170
million. Several House members are determined to fix the budget
deficit solely with spending reductions. The survivability of
essential state services will hang in the balance.
Budget Deliberations on Speed Dial
With a stark budget deficit facing the Governor - given the
excessive income tax reductions - an arbitrary 10% reduction to
most state programs was mandated to pay for the tax cuts. The word
'efficiency' is constantly thrown around but there is no debate on
'adequate staffing or program support'.
At what point does constant and relentless program cutting render
key state services or programs unworkable? There are no
accompanying measures of performance to see if Kansans are getting
competent or adequate services. The Legislature is compounding
this miserable budgetary review by rushing the process in 80 days
instead of 90 days.
These arbitrary budgetary reductions are numerous. While Kansas is
facing the worst drought in 60 years and water conservation/
planning is desperately needed, the Kansas Water Office budget is
in free fall.
From a budget of $10.1 million in 2012, the Governor recommends a
budget of only $6.8 million in 2015 - a 37% reduction. The State
Water Plan fund has lost the $6 million transfer from the State
General Fund and now has lost $2 million from lottery funds. Ten
years ago, Kansas had a $25 million State water plan funds whereas
by 2015 this plan is down to $12.5 million.
What quality of life is lost with less monitoring of water
pollution or reduced programs to slow soil sedimentation into
critical reservoirs that store water for downstream
The same budgetary pressure exists on the Kansas Department of
Agriculture (KDA). The number of employees has been reduced from
353 in 2012 to 274 in 2015. KDA's Conservation division is reduced
from $10.9 million in 2012 to $9.5 million as the State Water Plan
funds continue to decline.
As these budgets are rushed through, thoughtful discussions on
individual program performance is neglected. Can KDA adequately
inspect and monitor the 90 small meat plants left in our state?
With a simple goal of just cutting government period, the attitude
seems to be why worry over the quality and adequacy of state
Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards
In 2009, Kansas adopted a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS)
of 10% of installed electric generation by 2011, 15% by 2016 and
20% by 2020. SB 82 would delay these standards by two years.
SB 82 has passed out of Senate Utilities and may be debated on the
Senate floor next week. HB 2241 delays the 15% standard for three
years and eliminates the 20% standard all together. HB 2241 is
being debated in the House Energy and Environment committee and
will be voted on in the committee next Thursday - February 21 at 9
am in Room 582-N.
By the end of 2013, Kansas will have more than 2,800 megawatts of
installed wind energy at 19 wind farms equaling approximately $7
Billion in investment since 2001. More than 13,000 jobs have been
created by the wind industry since the first utility scale wind
farm was built in Kansas in 2001.
Kansas landowners receive $13 million in annual payments while
counties receive more than $10 million annually. The Kansas
Corporation Commission has reported that the RPS has had a minimal
impact on rates of less than 1.7%. Utilities are signing power
purchase agreements (PPA) and pay for only the wind power
generated. Cost of these PPA's at a fixed cost for 20 years is $35
per megawatt hour (MWh) while new natural gas is $45.63/MWh.
Infinity Wind Power has plans for 3,500 MW in western Kansas to
export power to markets further east.
If Kansas slows or eliminates the RPS, several wind farms will not
Local Enhanced Management Areas-- HB 2171
Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMA's) are locally initiated,
voluntary water conservation plans now available only in
groundwater management districts in the western half of Kansas.
This law passed in 2012.
HB 2171 will make this tool for locally-driven water conservation
planning options available statewide. The bill allows a local plan
to be developed and does not limit the persons or groups that may
instigate such water conservation plans. This bill was developed
by the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
The Kansas Farm Bureau opposed HB 2171 and testified this bill
alters the landscape of well-established water law in Kansas. The
Kansas Livestock Association opposed this bill and testified it
needed a more thorough review by the various stakeholders. The
Groundwater Management Districts testified in opposition to HB
2171 saying the broadness of this legislation is bad policy for
the state and should be referred to an interim for further
More Climate Science Presentations Held
By Kim Bellemere, KNRC
On Feb. 12, the House Energy and Environment Committee heard a
second round of presentations on climate change. Dr. John Reilly,
an economist and co-chair of the MIT Joint Program on the Science
and Policy of Global Change provided information and cited
research that clearly indicate that man-made climate change is
occurring. He outlined some of its potential economic impacts,
including impacts to food production, as well as policy measures
that could be taken to slow the increase in carbon pollution.
Reilly stated that of three policy options - cap and trade, carbon
taxes, and regulatory approaches (including an RPS)- carbon taxes
have the highest potential for impacting the amount of carbon
pollution released and are the most efficient way to boost
revenue. He also noted that regulatory uncertainty negatively
impacts investment in renewable energy. He indicated that the
largest increases in carbon pollution will come from countries
with rapidly growing economies, primarily India and China.
While his information and projections were grim, he noted that it
is in our best interest to lead the way in carbon reduction and
set an example for other countries stating that if the United
States ignores the problem, we will be unable to convince other
countries to address it.
Also presenting information was Christopher Horner, an attorney
and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Mr.
Horner took the opposite viewpoint indicating that the evidence
for man-made climate change isn't unequivocal, while attacking the
economics of renewable energy. Mr. Horner stated that renewable
energy has "never had a net impact on jobs" and that other
countries, most notably Spain and Germany, are seeing significant
negative consequences from their push to develop renewable energy.
The information presented by Dr. Reilly was largely supported by
scientific evidence and took into account computer projections and
models. Mr. Horner chose to "not present projections and theory"
but relied instead mostly on anecdotal evidence and studies that
have largely been discounted by the scientific community.
As we move forward in developing Kansas' renewable energy economy
it will be important for our citizens and our legislature to look
to reliable and fact-based evidence of its economic and
Kansas Bioscience Authority
Started in 2006, the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) has been on
a tumultuous journey since that time. Governor Sam Brownback took
a very hard look at KBA when first elected. The Governor requested
a top down audit on KBA's activities and finances. The new CEO at
KBA is Duane Cantrell, former director of Payless in Topeka, and
has been on the job at KBA for 60 days. There are several new
board members at KBA as well.
The KBA audit pointed out that KBA had a mentality of entitlement,
the organization was not very responsive and that KBA was not
always a good steward of the funds. CEO Cantrell has responded to
all of the points in this audit. 25% of the staff at KBA has been
Since 2006, KBA has spent $135 million on bioscience projects and
research. There have been an additional $134 million in
commitments. CEO Cantrell has reviewed this commitment of $134
million and found that $76 million met the requirements while $57
million did not.
KBA funded a very costly incubator in Olathe that now has an 88%
occupancy rate. This incubator has office space as well as state
of the art laboratories. 36% of the dollars spent by KBA have gone
to universities, 22% to companies, 16% for equity holdings, 17%
for centers of innovation and 9% for KBA infrastructure.
From 2001 to 2010, 13,266 bioscience jobs were created in 761
companies in Kansas. Average salary is $62,000 in bioscience
compared to the average manufacturing wage of $39,000.
The fastest growing bioscience jobs are in 'Drugs and
Pharmaceuticals' as well as 'Research, Testing and Medical
Laboratories'. Specialized bioscience employment will be found in
'Agricultural Feedstocks and Chemicals'. One-third of all global
animal health companies are located in the Kansas City area.
Bioscience is predicted to be the fourth leg of the employment
stool in Kansas with agriculture, aviation and automobiles.
CEO Cantrell has been an equity adviser for venture capitalists
around the world. For the future, Cantrell wants KBA to be an
investor in promising technologies that will render benefits to
Kansas for years to come. He wants a revolving KBA investment fund
that continues to relend. He wants to build a market-driven
investment model that is sustainable. He gave the example that of
the leading 17 cancer drugs in the world - 8 were developed in
Kansas but none are either owned by Kansas based firms or
He sees promise in animal health and food safety investments.
Exports will be the key to future growth and KBA should develop
and own the intellectual property rights to the genetic
manipulation of wheat and sorghum. This goes hand in hand with the
Kansas Department of Agriculture $2 million request with KSU and
Pioneer Seed Company to develop a $6 million independent sorghum
Going forward, KBA will develop a new investment strategy of loans
and equity purchases and few grants offered. While existing law
appropriates $35 million to KBA, the Governor's budget reduces
that to $10 million for 2014.
Paul Johnson can be reached at
There have now been 355 bills filed in the Kansas House and 208
bills filed in the Kansas Senate.
- SB 193 - regulation of 'fracking' by the
Kansas Corporation Commission
- SB 191 - repealing corporate farming
restrictions in Kansas
- SB 146 - on farm sales of raw milk in
- SB 147 - regulation of anhydrous ammonia
- HB 2354 - governmental ethics commission:
increase in fees
- HB 2332 - regulation of 'fracking' by
Kansas Corporation Commission
- HB 2292 - nuisance lawsuits and
|Kansans for Clean
Energy to Host Legislative Roundtable
Thursday February 21, 2013
Noon to 1 p.m.
Room 144-s Capitol Building
What is the future of Kansas wind?
Join community members and business leaders from your
district as they discuss the true cost and benefits of the
Kansas wind industry, and share how wind has impacted their
This educational forum will feature open dialogue with
* Box lunches at noon
* Energy Experts, Polsinelli Shughart, in partnership with
Kansas Energy Information Network, will present highlights
from "The Economic Benefits of Kansas Wind Energy"
For more information, contact Dorothy Barnett at
or Moti Reiber at
Federal Food and Farm Policy
Senate Budget Plan Includes Fix to Farm Bill Extension Fiasco
(From National Sustainable Ag Coalition, Feb. 14, 2013)
Washington, DC - The fiscal package announced today by Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proposes to correct the
disastrous farm bill extension measure agreed to by the White
House and Senate Minority Leader behind closed doors at the end of
last year as part of the New Year fiscal cliff deal.
The farm bill component of the new "American Family Economic
Protection Act" proposal is part of a larger package of spending
cuts and revenue increases proposed as an alternative to the meat
ax approach to deficit reduction known as sequestration.
The Reid proposal would end direct payments and restore the farm
bill programs that were left out of the farm bill extension
portion of the fiscal cliff deal. Those programs - for renewable
energy, rural small businesses, value-added agriculture, new and
beginning farmers, conservation, specialty crops, organic farming,
minority farmers, and local food producers - were all thrown under
the bus in the fiscal cliff deal in order to preserve every last
dollar of unneeded, untargeted, and antiquated direct subsidies.
The Reid proposal would right that wrong. It would also provide
immediate funding for livestock disaster assistance, another item
left out of the fiscal cliff deal.
Top of page
CONTACT INFO AND
To contact your Kansas State Senator, see the
It provides telephone numbers for their Topeka offices and e-mail
To contact your Kansas State House Representative, see the
It provides telephone numbers for their Topeka offices and e-mail
If you are unclear as to who your Senator or Representative is,
the Institute for Policy and Social Research website has a "How to
Find Your Legislator"
For a complete directory of U.S. Congressional Senators and
Representatives (D.C. offices and state offices), Kansas State
Legislators and Committees,
Kansas' U. S.
Congressional Delegation and their Washington D.C. phone
Senator Pat Roberts: 202-224-4774
Senator Jerry Moran: 202-224-6521
Rep. Tim Huelskamp
Rep. Lynn Jenkins
Rep. Kevin Yoder
Rep. Mike Pompeo
LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT
Supplement ll to Preliminary Summary of Legislation: 2012 Kansas
Legislature was completed on June 3. This supplement contains
summaries of selected bills from May 20 through adjournment. This
supplement contains information on water bills, land-spreading of
'fracking wastes', the state budget, KPERS omnibus bill and the
mega-tax bill - Senate Sub. for HB 2117. The first summary came
out on April 29 while Supplement 1 came out on May 2. These three
publications cover all of the major legislation passed by the 2012
KANSAS HEALTH INSTITUTE (KHI)
KHI will have the latest reporting on the progress of KanCare.
Check KHI's recent reporting on the problems with managed care
plans in Kentucky. They will also have detailed reporting on the
United States Supreme Court's decision on the President's
'Affordable Care Act' when that decision is released this month.
KHI is the best source of reporting on medical and social service
issues in Kansas.
CITIZEN UTILITY RATEPAYER
CURB intervenes in utility rate increase cases for residential and
small business customers before the Kansas Corporation Commission
(KCC). There are major rate requests by the large electric and
natural gas companies now before the KCC. You can sign up for the
newsletter from CURB that gives you detailed background
information on Westar, KCP&L and Kansas Gas Service rate requests
being heard by the KCC. CURB also tracks legislation before the
Kansas Legislature to determine its impact on residential and
small business customers.
Top of page
On behalf of the board and staff of the Kansas
Rural Center, I want to thank those who have contributed to this
project. We look
forward to working with you in 2013 to help
build a food and farming system that cares for the land and
people. Your participation and your donation in support of
KRC's 2013 Legislative and Policy Watch Program will make this
join us today!
Mary Fund, Kansas Rural Center
785 873 3431
Kansas Rural Center | 304 Pratt Street | PO Box 133 | Whiting | KS
Top of page
How to Join and Donate
Who We Are Projects Calendar
& News Policy & Advocacy
Heartland Network Kansas
Food Policy Council Clean
Water Farms Project Links Home
2010, Kansas Rural Center. All rights reserved.
Questions about the KRC website may be directed to the