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Feb. 3, 2023
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Minutes for HB2531 - Committee on Agriculture

Short Title

Allowing certain persons to use the right-of-way of any county road or township road to install, maintain and operate one or more pipelines for agricultural activities.

Minutes Content for Mon, Feb 14, 2022

Chairperson Rahjes opened the hearing on HB2531.

Kyle Hamilton, Office of Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of HB2531 and stood for questions.

PROPONENTS - In Person

Mike O'Neal, O'Neal Consulting, LLC testified in support of the bill.  He explained that he had asked for introduction of the bill on behalf of a group of landowners concerned about the ambiguity of the law to allow a county to grant right-of-way easements for the placement of pipes to assist agricultural producers in moving water and liquid nutrients from non-contiguous parcels of land.  He indicated that the language of the bill would create a process for application to the county for placement of these pipelines ensuring that the applicants comply with all applicable state and country rules and regulations.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 1)

Craig Ingram, Phillips County businessman and farmer, testified in support of the bill.  Mr. Ingram described the process he followed when he went to the county to obtain permission to construct pipelines for his business and the threat of potential litigation.  He requested favorable action on the bill.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 2)

Steven Cox, Phillips and Norton County businessman and farmer, provided a brief history of the change and impact from "the family farm" to today's more specialized and intensive agricultural processes.  Part of the change included non-contiguous plots of land and the development (which included pipelines placed in the Right-of-Way) to overcome these obstacles.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 3)

Max Dibble, Phillips County Commissioner, provided information on the long standing tradition of counties permitting the use of pipelines in the right-of-way which has provided an increased tax base which has been beneficial in light of dwindling tax base from other businesses.  He stood for questions. (Attachment 4)

Patrick Hughes, Attorney, Adams Law Firm, provided testimony about the litigation that prompted the introduction of this bill.  He requested favorable action on the bill and stood for questions.(Attachment 5)

Aaron Popelka, VP of Legal and Governmental Affairs, Kansas Livestock Association, provided information about the authorization of counties to lay out roads (K.S.A. 68-201) and that a road is a public utility and does not confine its use to automobiles.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 6)

PROPONENTS - Written

John Donley, Kansas Farm Bureau(Attachment 7)

Tim Stroda, President and CEO, Kansas Pork Association (Attachment 8)

OPPONENTS - via WebEx

Jan Wold, farm owner in Norton County, testified in opposition to the bill on the basis of private property rights and eminent domain which requires payment for the taking of private property.  She stood for questions.(Attachment 9)

OPPONENTS - In Person

Rodney Ross, multi-generational farm owner in Norton County, testified in opposition to the bill on the basis of his personal experience with a right-of-way being used for agricultural pipelines and concerns about the quality of construction of the lines.  He requested that the committee not pass the bill favorably.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 10)

Zack Pistora, Legislative Policy Director and General Counsel, Sierra Club Kansas Chapter, testified in opposition to the bill raising issues on private property rights, agribusiness vs personal property enjoyment, and other issues about the bill.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 11)

Gabe Hubbard, Attorney Graber and Johnson Law Group, LLC, provided testimony about a lawsuit in Phillips Country regarding using the right-of-way for agriculture pipelines.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 12)

OPPONENTS - Written

Keith Browning,  Local Road Engineer, Kansas Association of Counties(Attachment 13)

Mike Baughn, Thomas County, Kansas Commissioner(Attachment 14)

Daryl Lutz, Public Works, Butler County, Kansas(Attachment 15)

NEUTRAL - Oral

Jay Hall, Kansas Association of Counties, provided neutral testimony and raised the issues of safety and the ability to locate agriculture pipelines.  He stood for questions.(Attachment 16)

NEUTRAL - Written

John Ellermann, Director of Public Works,  Riley County, Kansas (Attachment 17)

Leslie Kaufman, V.P. Government Relations and Legal Counsel, Kansas Electric Cooperatives(Attachment 18)

Leo Haynos, Chief Executive Officer, Kansas Corporation Commission(Attachment 19)

There were no others requesting to testify or enter written testimony.

The Chair closed the hearing on HB2531.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:30pm.