Current (4/6/2022): Sub HB 2686 was never considered by the full House. However, the issues raised by the Commitee’s work are not dead. The Committee leadership is expected to request an Interim Committee to continue its work, an audit of the GMDs by Legislative Research, and more. So, stay tuned for future developments.
Previous: On the morning of 3/1, the House Committee on Water “worked” HB 2628, the Mega Water Bill. Immediately below is:
1) a summary of what occurred,
2) a sampling of the media’s sharp response from the Topeka Capital-Journal, Hays Post, Kansas City Star and Kansas Reflector and
3) current relevant links for the Substitute bill and the 2017 Blue Ribbon Task Force report.
As of 3/7/2022, Sub HB 2686 awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Summary of what occurred: First, the chairman proposed a comprehensive set of amendments, which would have: removed KDHE’s Division of Environment from the agency consolidation leaving a Department of Water with its Secretary of Water; gutted the GMD provisions of the bill except for reporting; removed the water right fee for those paying a GMD assessment and basing it on water use than authorized quantity; struck the increase in water protection fees; raised water funding by $45 million/year via dedicating 1/65 of the current revenues from the state’s current 6.5 cents sales tax, and more.
Second, Rep. Newland offered a substitute bill which included only GMD reporting provisions and expanded funding for water projects via dedicating 1/10 of one cent of the state’s sale tax to water funding (of the current 6.5 cents, approx. $49 million/year) into the State Water Plan Fund. The committee amended this substitute bill to add a one-time reporting requirement by GMDs from the balloon on p. 24 of the Chairman’s proposed amendments.
After discussion, the committee passed favorably out of committee, on a 9 to 6 vote, the amended substitute bill, now called “Substitute for House Bill No. 2686.” Its fate is now in the hands of the House leadership, which will determine when and if it will be considered by the full House of Representatives.
Sample of Media’s response:
- Kansas Reflector: Shooting themselves in the foot: Committee guts Kansas bill to protect water https://kansasreflector.com/2022/03/01/shooting-themselves-in-the-foot-committee-guts-kansas-bill-to-protect-water/
- Kansas City Star: Farm groups stymie reorganization of Kansas water programs https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/national-international/article258928068.html
- Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas Farm Bureau, legislators square off over water policy overhaul https://www.cjonline.com/story/business/agricultural/2022/03/01/kansas-farm-bureau-agriculture-groups-legislators-square-off-over-water-policy-overhaul-new-agency/9332068002/
- Hays Post: Legislative committee guts Kansas bill to protect water https://hayspost.com/posts/5df6c4a6-a9c1-4d04-afac-c18e624bcaaa
Current relevant links:
- Legislative page for Sub House Bill 2686
- Supplemental Note for the Substitute bill
- Blue Ribbon Task Force page (2017 final report)
Short title of HB 2628 as proposed: “Creating the Kansas department of water and environment within the executive branch and transferring the duties of certain offices to such department, establishing the water and environment maintenance fund and the water and environment maintenance board, modifying election procedures for groundwater management districts, establishing a water rights fee on owners of water rights and permits to appropriate water for beneficial use, authorizing the chief engineer to issue certain orders without review by the secretary of water and environment, increasing water protection fees, establishing a civil penalty for obstructions in streams violations and establishing the water structures emergency fund.“
To listen: go to the Committee’s link below and click on the link to the Audio Stream.
* Media links below.
This new committee of the Kansas House of Representatives held numerous hearings during 2021 to collect information on state and local water agencies, their responsibilities, programs, staffing, and budgets. The committee’s work continues in 2022 to decide on recommendations for the Legislature to implement, including increasing funding for water programs.
The committee’s work is accessible at: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/committees/ctte_h_water_1/ with key documents available via our tables below. The Committee’s legislative web site includes:
- A link to access an audio stream of committee hearings
- Committee documents– includes State & Federal Water Programs Manual, Water Programs Org Chart, and committee roster, rules and more.
- Committee testimony, by hearing date (including from 2021 session).
- Video is also available at this link. Again, select videos are linked below.
Index of 2022 Committee work
|Date||Subject||Link to document|
|1/11/2022||Committee roster and rules||Roster; |
|1/12/2022||Agency updates by KWO and KDA-DWR – video||Committee minutes;|
KWO, C. Owen;
KDA-DWR, E. Lewis
|1/13/2022||KDHE Agency update – video. Includes introduction of HB 2480 (definition of “project”)||Commitee minutes;|
|1/19/2022||Nature Conservancy; the US Army, Corps of Engineers video||Committee minutes; |
|1/20/2022||Kansas Farm Bureau|
|Committee minutes; |
|1/24/2022||KDA-Div. of Conservation; Conservation Districts|
|1/25/2022||Hearing on HB 2480 (def. of project)|
Revisor bill brief;
City of Russell;
City of Hays;
League of KS Mun.;
|1/26/2022||KWO / KWA on State Water Plan video||KWA annual report|
|1/27/2022||Committee passes HB 2480 favorably|
|1/31/2022||DWR on Dam Safety video||NA, see video, media below|
|2/14/2022||Revisor’ presents summary of HB 2686|
|2/15/2022||Chairman Highland presents on rationale for bill |
Water agencies org with bill changes
|2/16/2022||Hearing, Day 1, Proponents (and one opponent) |
|City of Wichita;|
Friends of the Kaw;
Kansas Farmer Union;
City of Hutchinson ;
KS Municipal Utilities;
KS Sierra Club;
Opponent: GMD 5
|2/17/2022||Hearing, Day 2, Opponents and Neutrals |
|Opponents: KLA; |
KS Ag Alliance;
KS Water Congress;
SW KS Irrigators;
Neutrals: KBS ;
KS Prof. Engineers;
City of Garden City;
|2/18/2022||Commitee discussions, part 1 (GMD and fees)||Link to video|
|2/21/2022||Committee discussions, part 2 (agency re-org)||Link to video|
|3/1/2022||Committee final action (see top of page) |
link to video
|Chair’s proposed amendments|
Rep. Newland’s substitute bill
Media related to 2022 work of the committee
- 1/18/22 Kansas Reflector article on the House Committee on Water’s work: considering water quality, reservoir sedimentation, groundwater conservation, water funding, and water agency restructuring.
- 1/28/22 KS Reflector article: Hope springs from Kansas governor’s proposal to restore water funding
- 1/28/22 – Opinion piece by the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Water Bipartisan solution would save water for Kansas farmers
- 1/31/22 KS Reflector article on the House Committee on Water (HCOW) hearing on Monday on dam safety needs of the state.
- 2/12/22 High Plains Journal: “Water secretary needed cabinet position in Kansas, lawmaker says”