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Minutes for HB2246 - Committee on Agriculture

Short Title

Amendments to the Kansas noxious weed law.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 7, 2017

Chair Hoffman opened the hearing on HB2246 at 4:14pm.

Kyle Hamilton, Assistant Revisor, Office of The Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of HB2246 and the statutes that it affects. (Attachment 3) There is a Fiscal Note for HB2246.

Chad Bontrager, Deputy Secretary, Kansas Department of Agriculture, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2246. He explained the three areas in the law that  HB2246 would improve:  Creating a Noxious Weed Advisory Committee; Streamline the administration of the law by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KSDA) and county weed departments; and Update the law to accommodate the changes outlined as well as address outdated and unused provision.  (Attachment 4)    

Mike Beam, Senior Vice President, Kansas Livestock Association, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2246.  The Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) requested the introduction of this bill in this committee.  It is similar to the bill that past the House last year, with the addition of new sections to address the spread of noxious weeds on road right-of-ways and how noxious weeds are designated at state and local levels.  KLA believes this legislation is a needed update to the statues, which go back to 1947.  (Attachment 5)      

Randy E. Stookey, General Counsel, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, appeared before the Committee in support of HB2246. The Kansas Cooperative Council and Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association believe that many of the purposed changes in HB2246 would benefit industry and producers, however there are some sections of the bill that they feel should be amended.  (Attachment 6)       

Melissa Wangemann, General Counsel & Director of Legislative Services, Kansas Association of Counties, submitted written testimony in support of HB2246. She explained that the time has come to list noxious weeks through the rules and regulation process. Ms. Wangemann said that the new language concerning use of county general fund budgeting will clarify once and for all that counties can appropriate county funds for noxious weed eradication without a separate budget fund. (Attachment 7)  

Dennis Peterson, President, County Weed Director's Association of Kansas (CWDAK), appeared before the Committee in opposition of HB2246.  The board of directors of CWDAK no longer supports the ability of the KSDA to determine what is considered a noxious weed.  They prefer that it continues to be named by statute.  The CWDAK does support the funding flexibility portion of HB2246 and the ability to place 50% on the cost of treatment on the tax rolls against the affected tract of land. (Attachment 8)      

Sean Gatewood, Kansas Farmers Union, appeared before the Committee in opposition of HB2246.  The group is concerned about the make up of the new advisory council, the powers granted to the KSDA Secretary, the rights of the landowner regarding access and application of pesticides, and the potential over-reach when a weed is declared noxious automatically statewide.  (Attachment 9)     

Paul Johnson, Kansas Rural Center, appeared before the Committee in opposition of HB2246. He said that the Kansas Rural Center was concerned with the transfer of power from the legislature to unelected appointees, the burden on property owners, the potential for "chemical trespass", and the promotion of increased chemical usage across Kansas.  (Attachment 10)   

Zack Pistora, State Lobbyist, Kansas Sierra Club, provided written only testimony in opposition of HB2246. He did later appear and made remarks to the committee. (Attachment 11)

There were no neutrals of HB2246.

The hearing on HB2246 was closed at 5:10pm.

Chair Hoffman created a subcommittee to review the 2016 Noxious Weed bill that passed out of the House, but did not pass out of the Senate and compare it to HB2246.  He appointed Representative Thompson (Chair), Representative Clark, Representative Lusker, and Representative Neighbor to the subcommittee.

Chair Hoffman adjourned the meeting at 5:12pm