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Minutes for HB2099 - Committee on Agriculture

Short Title

Relating to remedies for the impairment of a valid water right or permit to divert and use water.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 9, 2017

Chair Hoffman opened the hearing on HB2099 at 3:35pm.

Kyle Hamilton, Assistant Revisor, Office of The Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of HB2099 and the statutes that it affects. (Attachment 1)   There is a Fiscal Note for HB2099.

Susan Metzger, Assistant Secretary, Kansas Department of Agriculture, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  This bill promotes the exhaustion of administrative remedies as a condition to seeking judicial action.  It places time limits on the Chief Engineer to initiate and complete an impairment investigation.  It also allows the complainant to request a temporary order.  The Department of Agriculture (KSDA) proposes two amendments.  (Attachment 2)     

 

At 3:47pm, the Chair turned control of the hearing over to Vice-Chair Thompson due to a prior out of town engagement.

Kent Askren, Director of Public Policy, Kansas Farm Bureau, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  We feel that the Chief Engineer has the experience and resources to deal with impairment complaints.   We expect the time limits stipulated in the bill will encourage the agency to give a high priority to quickly and fairly carry out these investigations.  (Attachment 3)           

John Donley, Kansas Corn Growers Association, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  This culminates the discussion that began last year in committee.  It is important that there is consistent application of what constitutes impairment in an enforcement action.  This bill is an attempt to provide a timely,, efficient system to address these claims.  (Attachment 4)           

Aaron M. Popelka, Vice President of Legal & Governmental Affairs, Kansas Livestock Association, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  We believe that this bill will create a more predictable and cohesive system of handling impairment complaints.  It gives the Chief Engineer the ability to issue temporary orders to curtail usage if impairment is likely and the order would not be adverse to the public interest.  (Attachment 5)        

Tracy Streeter, Director, Kansas Water Office, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  The Kansas Water Authority (KWA) has been involved in the formation of this bill since 2015.  We have been involved with a broad coalition of stakeholders and the KSDA to find the best solution for all parties involved.  The KWA formally supports this legislation.  (Attachment 6)     

Mark Rude, Executive Director, SW Kansas Groundwater Management District 3, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2099.  This bill provides an orderly path for rights owners to seek relief for any impaired water rights claim.  It allows the administrative record and fact finding to be completed first.  In two recent court actions, that followed the judicial remedy first, the court dictated the Chief Engineer and KSDA to fact find and develop administrative assistance.  By developing administrative solutions first, this may be more efficient and cost effective, thus avoiding unnecessary and inefficient constraints imposed under greater cost by a court.  (Attachment 7)      

Kirk Heger, President, Southwest Kansas Irrigation Association, submitted written testimony in support of HB2099(Attachment 8)

Joseph T. Pajor, Deputy Director, Wichita Department of Public Works and Utilities, appeared before the Committee in opposition of HB2099.  The City seeks to maintain the current rights of a water rights holder to protect themselves from injury by the actions of others.  We must have access to prompt intervention of an impairment claim.  While this bill includes new powers for the Chief Engineer, the efficiency of these new powers have not been demonstrated and the Chief Engineer alone can determine whether and to what extent to use them.  (Attachment 9)

There were no neutrals of HB2099.

The proponents and opponent answered questions from the committee.  Considerable discussion ensued concerning representation on the group involved in the creation of HB2099 and other parts of the bill.

Representative Lusker moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Representative Highland. Motion carried without objection.

The meeting was adjourned by Vice-Chair Thompson at 4:24pm.