Thursday, October 23, 2014

TYSON: If it can’t pass in an election year ...

By CARYN TYSON, Kansas State Senator | 2/10/2014

The Kansas Legislature works on a two-year cycle. Bills that were introduced in an odd-numbered year and are under consideration by a conference committee or in which no action was taken “shall remain alive” the following even numbered year. This is important because bills that passed one chamber last year only have to pass the other chamber this year. Any bill that is not signed into law after this year’s session will die.

Last year, the same bill was introduced in the house and the Senate to remove restrictions on corporate farms and allow foreign-owned corporations, like the Chinese company that bought Smithfield Farms, to have large operations (for example a 10,000-head dairy or hog operation) almost anywhere in Kansas. State law now allows and protects family farms, including family corporate farms where at least one of the owners lives on and runs the operation.  It also allows for foreign corporate owners on a county-by-county basis. Therefore, the counties get to decide if they want these large, possibly foreign-owned operations as their neighbors.

I did not support the bill and proposed an amendment that would strengthen the local control, instead of removing it, allowing the county commissioners and voters to decide if they want these foreign-owned large operations. Because of people like you contacting their legislators against the bill, there is no desire to work the bill in an election year. If the supporters of the bill aren’t willing to work on it in an election year, they should not be working to pass the bill any year.

Weather delays

Last week was a short one at the Legislature. The Capitol was closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of the snow storm. I hope that you were able to stay warm and safe.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families announced a program that provides up to $511 for propane purchases for families who rely on it as a primary source of heat. The one-time benefit will run through March 4.

State revenue

The Legislative Research Department announced the total State General Fund taxes for the month of January were $24 million (7 percent) above estimates, and for the month of December was $7.4 million (3 percent) above estimates. The current Fiscal Year is $368.3 million or 10 percent below FY 2013 receipts for the same period, which is expected with the income tax cuts passed during the 2013 legislative session.

Again, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District state senator.     

Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, represents Franklin County and the 12th District in the Kansas Senate. Email her at Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov or call (785) 296-6838.

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