Rahjes Report - March 19, 2018

Hello from Topeka and is was great to see moisture over much of the area the first of the week.  Although we can use more, we thank the Good Lord for providing much needed precipitation.  At the end of last week, the much-anticipated report was received on funding from K-12 education.  There were some numbers that were not correct in coming up with the total dollars the study said was needed, but by all indications it shows it could be as much as $2 billion dollars over the next several years. We will know more as the next few days progress on what the legislature will do in sending a response to the Kansas Supreme Court, I think it is going to be difficult to find the votes for a major tax increase this year. There continues to be speculation of additional income taxes or property taxes levied to provide additional money.  As a member of the tax committee, there have been several proposals but not much support for anything currently.

One of the bills which has been given a lot of attention was SB 405, which is clarifying animal conversion units for poultry facilities with dry manure systems. The bill would establish the animal unit measurement calculation for chicken facilities that use a dry manure waste system as the number of laying hens or broilers, multiplied by 0.003.  The bill would also require a confined chicken facility to obtain a federal permit if the facility uses a dry manure system and confines 125,000 or more broilers or 82,000 or more laying hens.  It may not be a perfect bill, but it is a first step if communities want to pursue poultry operations. It passed by a vote of 84-37, I voted yes.

Also last week, the Agriculture Committee heard testimony on SB 263, which would allow the Kansas Department of Agriculture to cultivate and research the uses of industrial hemp.  Principally, the research would be conducted in effort to analyze its required soils, growing conditions, harvest methods, and the potential for an industrial hemp market in Kansas.  Additionally, a pilot program in Russell County would be established to study its effect on economic development and the development of industrial hemp products.  Representatives Willie Dove, Steven Johnson, and Troy Waymaster expressed their support, as well as the Department of Agriculture, the Sierra Club, small businesses, and private citizens.  Data was included that showed hemp uses 66% less water than corn, requires virtually no pesticides or fertilizers, and has great potential to improve agricultural and economic activity in rural Kansas.  Opponents argued that the provisions of the bill would lead to the legalization of marijuana, while others asserted that this bill would not go far enough concerning hemp.

In March of 2017, the House passed HB 2182 on a vote of 103-18.  HB 2182 differs from SB 263, in that SB 263 solely allows the Department of Agriculture, either alone or in coordination with a state institution of higher education to grow, cultivate, and research industrial hemp.  Earlier in February, the Senate approved this bill with a final vote count of 36-3.  The committee passed SB 263 this week and has yet to be considered by the full house.

The Kansas House recognized the Kansas Small Business Development Center’s 2018 Businesses of the Year with House Resolution 6051.   The resolution was sponsored by 75 members of the House.  The resolution noted that the mission of the Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is to, “increase economic prosperity in Kansas by helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses through professional consulting and training, and the identification of appropriate resources.  The Kansas SBDC choose seven Emerging Businesses of the Year, seven Existing Businesses of the Year, and two Exporting Businesses of the Year award recipients.

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Emerging Businesses of the Year are: BellaRose Boutique and Tanning Salon, LLC in Burlington, owned by Lindsay Beyer; Lost Creek Supply in Kensington, owned by Kaid Baumann; Angel Competition Bikinis, LLC in Lenexa, owned by Karah and Lauren Beeves; HMC Performance Coatings in Tonganoxie, owned by Shawn and Amie Bristol; Root Coffeehouse in Pittsburg, owned by Lindsey and Trent King; Advantage Marketing in Wichita, owned by Cori Kohlmeier and Amy Hoefer; and Sugar Creek Country Store in St. Marys, owned by Dan Hohman.

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Existing Businesses of the Year are: Radius Brewing Company, LLC in Emporia, owned by Justin Bays, Jeremy Johns and Chad Swift; KYVZ Radio in Atwood, owned by Joe Vysourek; KC Restoration, LLC in Olathe, owned by Bill and LeAnn Luemmen; KEAdvisors in Lawrence, owned by Keith Ely; LaHarpe Telephone Company, Inc. in LaHarpe, owned by Harry Lee, Joyce Lee and Carol Higginbotham; T & B Towing, LLC in Liberal, owned by Ty Rader; Overstock Art, LLC in Wichita, owned by David Sasson; and Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise in Alma, owned by Lori Daniel.

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Exporting Businesses of the Year are: Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc. in Park, owned by Dale and Dena Goetz; and Northwind Technical Services, LLC in Sabetha, owned by Mike and Marlene Bosworth.

My office is now on the 5th floor at 512-N.  The phone number stays the same. Please feel free to reach out with concerns and questions, I will do my best to respond it a timely manner. My phone number is (785) 296-7463 and email is: ken.rahjes@house.ks.gov, my cell number is (785) 302-8416.   You can also check out kenforkansas.com.

It is my honor to be your representative.