Standing committees of the Kansas Legislature met last week to learn more about the Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budgets for the 2015 to 2017 fiscal years and to introduce new bills for consideration this session. Many of these bills have yet to be published. Below is a status report on bills of interest to KLA members.
     Mitigation of watershed dams - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing this week on legislation (HB 2061) that would authorize the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s State Conservation Commission to acquire and administer conservation easements necessary for the mitigation of impoundments sponsored by watershed districts. KLA supports HB 2061.
     Multi-year water flex account - Under current law, a water right owner may establish a five-year flex account that allows the pumping of water to exceed the annual authorized use in any one year, as long as the cumulative water use does not exceed the five year allocation. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing this week on SB 36, a bill that would allow a flex account participant to roll over a portion of their unused water into a second flex account when the five-year agreement expires. KLA supports SB 36.
     Stream augmentation - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing this week on a bill to allow the chief engineer of the Division of Water Resources to use augmentation to secure water for an impaired senior water right owner. The legislation (HB 2059) is intended to allow the pumping of groundwater into a stream that provides surface water for downstream water right holders.
     Commercial vehicle regulations - Last year, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill that exempted vehicles with a gross weight rating between 10,000 lbs. and 26,000 lbs. and operated in intrastate commerce, from most state commercial vehicle regulations. This law is scheduled to expire July 1, 2015. KLA provided testimony last week in support of SB 21, a bill to make the exemption permanent.


KLA Vice President of Communications Todd Domer says new leadership is in place for the Stockgrowers Council and Cattle Feeders Council.