Policy update from Josh Roe, VP of Market Development and Policy

And They’re Gone! Kansas Legislature Adjourns

The Kansas Legislature adjourned in the “wee” hours of Sunday morning, May 5th, to cap off one of the shortest sessions in recent history. You may recall that they came back from first adjournment for the veto session on May 1. So, compared to recent history with several sessions lasting well into May and even into June, this was a very compact veto session.

The only outstanding piece of legislation that KCGA had engaged in for the veto session was SB 63. The Senate passed the Conference Committee Report on SB 63 during the veto session and it now awaits the governor’s signature. This far-reaching transportation bill, a combination of many pieces of legislation, contained the “ATV Bill”, allowing agricultural producers to cross or drive down highways on ATVs and UTVs under certain conditions for agricultural purposes. Stay tuned for a full overview of this upcoming law.

The final two pieces of business the legislature conducted before adjourning was passage of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1 and a pared-down version of the tax cut bill that the Governor vetoed earlier this spring. It’s yet to be seen how the Governor will act on the tax bill or if she will utilize her line-item veto power for any portion of the budget. The legislature returns for “sine die,” or the ceremonial end to the session, and has the ability to address any vetoes at that time.

What received the most attention during the veto session was a strong effort to force a vote on Medicaid expansion in the Senate. Earlier this session the House passed Medicaid expansion, but it did not receive a hearing on the Senate side. Some legislative maneuvering was attempted to bring it up for a floor vote, but those measures came up short, including a group of legislators that had vowed to block the budget until expansion came up for floor debate. Senate leadership has agreed to hold interim hearings on expansion with the goal of assembling a bill. So, look for this to continue.

All in all, this was a light, yet fruitful year for agriculture in the legislature. Producers received some additional options on everything from where to drive an ATV to the option of purchasing healthcare benefits from the Farm Bureau. However, as indicated in an earlier article, even a light legislative session requires following more than 20 bills. I expect next year’s session to be more active on the agricultural front as this administration and new leadership has time to get their feet under them. In the meantime, please reach out to me with any ideas you have for improvement or if you are hearing anything in your area about pending legislation, both pro and anti-agriculture. My email is jroe@ksgrains.com or you can call my cell at 785-410-0958.

Over the next few months expect my policy updates to be more focused on major federal issues, and we have some major ones: trade, farm bill implementation and ethanol policy.

Josh Roe, VP of Market Development and Policy