We oppose any extension of the power of cities to zone or annex beyond their borders. Annexation should only occur after consent or a vote of the people in the area proposed. When annexation does occur, cities should be required to submit a formal plan and timeline for the extension of services. If that timeline is not followed, residents should be allowed to petition for de-annexation. Affected residents should be allowed review of the reasonableness of annexation decisions by the District Court.
We encourage a change in the Retail Electric Suppliers Act so that a retail electric supplier cannot be forced to terminate service if a city proposes to annex land located within its certified territory unless agreed to by the residents involved. The legislature should reform inconsistencies in the taxation of electric infrastructure to address the competitive advantage municipal utilities can gain over rural electric cooperatives because cities pay no property tax on poles and other infrastructure.
Apportionment and Representation
We support the time-tested system of allocating seats in the U.S. House of Representatives on a population basis and seats in the U.S. Senate such that each state has equal representation. State Senate districts should be drawn to equalize the square miles or the number of counties in all districts.
Consolidating Units of Government
Local units of government should be encouraged to fully utilize interlocal agreements to ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars before structural consolidation is contemplated.
We support consolidation of units of government that results in reduction in the tax burden with consideration of the following factors:
· Study commissions should contain significant rural representation.
· Meetings should be open to the public with adequate notice.
· Funding should sunset at the conclusion of the commission.
· A public vote should be required to abolish any elected position.
· Tax and bonding limits should remain in effect following consolidation.
· Incorporated areas should have the ability to opt-out by majority vote or resolution.
· Any plan for consolidation should be approved by:
· A dual majority consisting of voters residing in each municipality in question, and a majority of voters residing in the combined unincorporated areas, unless
· Authorizing legislation ensures the following:
i. Continuation of existing levels of services for rural residents;
ii. Existing municipal boundaries remain unchanged;
iii. Existing debt obligations of governments remain with the
residents of the city or county prior to consolidation;
iv. A requirement that the government of the largest
incorporated population base in the county cease to exist
upon consolidation; and
v. The development of separate budgets and tax statements for
county residents and city residents.
Drug Abuse and the Drinking Driver
We strongly support education, enforcement and rehabilitation programs that will reduce the problems of drug and alcohol abuse in Kansas and across the nation.
We support programs to inform all citizens of the effects of alcohol and drug use in regard to the privilege of operating a motor vehicle. Kansas DUI statutes should be vigorously enforced.
Drug education for children should commence in Kindergarten and be continued through the twelfth grade. Funding for alcohol and drug abuse education should be provided by federal and state government, with funding from taxes on alcohol and related industries. We support the DARE Program in Kansas.
All levels of law enforcement should have the necessary resources to investigate and prosecute drug offenses in a timely manner. We support uniformity of laws with bordering states.
Methamphetamine production poses significant risks to the public.
· Aggressive prosecution for individuals accused of drug crimes and the manufacturing of methamphetamines;
· Stringent penalties for individuals convicted of drug crimes and crimes committed to obtain ingredients for manufacturing methamphetamines;
· Efforts to reduce the ability of criminals to access ingredients such as anhydrous ammonia, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine;
· The development and voluntary use of products to identify the unlawful use of ingredients for manufacturing methamphetamines; and
· Technical and financial assistance for innocent property owners to clean up methamphetamine production sites.
Eminent domain procedures should be used only for legitimate public purposes. The use of eminent domain for economic development should be restricted. We oppose the practice of condemning the property of one landowner and subsequently transferring that property to another private owner. Agricultural land or open space should be excluded from lands that can be designated as blighted by local governments.
Owners of real estate proposed to be taken in a condemnation proceeding should be allowed to choose one appraiser in the appraisal process. All appraisals should be made public. The legislature should consider and adopt appropriate mechanisms to evaluate and provide equitable payment to owners of property condemned by eminent domain, especially in instances where there is significant increase in value as a result of the development. Petitioners in a condemnation action should be required to complete an impact analysis and feasibility study to estimate potential increases in value of the property to be taken.
Takings, partial takings, or any other governmental control or jurisdiction over private property should not be permitted without just compensation for loss of production, development, or sale potential, as provided in the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A severance allowance should be paid to those who lose income because leased or rented real estate has been taken in an eminent domain or condemnation proceeding. A person whose property is taken by eminent domain or condemnation should have one year following payment to relocate, with the relocation costs being borne by the person or entity "taking" the property.
Producers should be compensated if it is necessary to alter agricultural practices when regulations or legislation take effect which classify species as “threatened,” “endangered” or “in need of conservation.”
We support the continuation of Fort Riley as a significant military installation in the state and nation. We oppose expansion of the base by the use of eminent domain powers.
We support the effort to study land use in the area and to develop plans to allow surrounding communities to maximize benefits received from the Fort. Those plans should recognize the importance of production agriculture and the compatibility it shares with operations on the Fort.
Government Acquisition of Property
We oppose the practice of organizations and foundations purchasing private land with the clear intent that such land will be resold or donated to some governmental entity. Such practices frequently diminish the tax base of local units of government and ultimately increase governmental costs, agency staffing and appropriations.
Legislation should be enacted to provide for right-of-first-refusal for the immediate prior landowner when government-owned land is to be leased for farming. Should the original landowner not desire to lease the government-owned property, a uniform procedure should prevail for bidding on the land available for lease.
We oppose the use of federal or state funds or state fee funds to acquire, own, operate or enlarge any federal or state preserve, park or monument on privately owned land.
We oppose the net expansion in the number of acres of land that the local, state or federal government owns in Kansas.
We oppose the expansion of tribal authority through the use of eminent domain.
Kansas Farm Bureau supports legal immigration but recognizes that illegal aliens are taxing the resources of Kansas. We believe enforcement of immigration laws and border security is a responsibility of the federal government, but we support the rights of states to enforce these responsibilities.
Initiative and Referendum
We oppose the use of the initiative and referendum procedure because it will undermine our representative form of government, impair legislative responsibility, lengthen the ballot and result in poorly drafted legislation.
We support an independent judiciary and impartial administration of law. The judicial function should be performed by the judicial branch and not by executive agencies.
While we prefer judicial administration through the court system, we recognize administrative actions are part of the regulatory process. We recommend impartial hearing officers be used in reviewing administrative actions and any determination should be made by an unbiased party with adequate technical expertise. Administrative procedures must allow for appeal to a court of law.
We strongly support the statutory requirement that there be at least one judge in each county.
We further support the authority of a county to determine whether it shall have a county attorney or a district attorney by vote of the qualified electorate.
The United States Supreme Court, and each court in the land, should strictly interpret U.S. and state Constitutions. We support judges and justices interpreting laws based on legislative intent. We support the legislature’s clear and distinct authority to appropriate funds as provided in the Kansas Constitution. We oppose legislating from the bench. Under no circumstances should the judicial branch be able to demand funds be appropriated.
In cases where a jury has entered a guilty verdict, sentencing is rendered and the defendant has appealed, we encourage the judge to place heavy emphasis on the impact of a crime on the victim/victim’s family, particularly when the injury has resulted in a death, when determining what, if any, bond is appropriate.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment
We support the current organizational structure of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Coordination of environmental and health programs should be a priority and can be achieved under the current administrative structure.
Government should prevent mergers that violate antitrust laws and threaten our competitive enterprise system. Subject to the foregoing, government should not halt development nor limit the size of any business no matter if it is agricultural, manufacturing, processing or retailing.
Planning and Zoning
Those who own or operate land should have the major responsibility for land use and development.
We urge Farm Bureau members, farmers and ranchers in every county, to become involved in planning and development of zoning ordinances to prevent undesirable land use patterns. In all governmental planning and zoning activities, agriculture must be involved and represented.
Planning and zoning activities are best addressed at the local level.
We support the statutory provisions in Kansas law to protect agricultural activities consistent with good agricultural practices from nuisance actions.
We oppose federal legislation and agency policy which would impose land use regulations as a qualification for federal grants and loans.
We oppose federal assistance to states and local units of government for land use planning.
Private Property Rights
We vigorously support landowners' rights. We support legislation which will prevent any increased liability for owners of land or livestock.
We oppose the imposition of a moratorium on the development of any agricultural crop or livestock production facility or operation in Kansas. Legislative or regulatory efforts should not prevent agricultural producers from voluntarily participating in coordinated, value or supply chain based marketing mechanisms.
We adamantly oppose the imposition of a moratorium, voluntary or otherwise, on the development of commercial energy generation on private land.
Public Access to Private Land
We strongly oppose giving the public free access to private property adjacent to rivers and streams. We support the following procedures for sportsmen and others who seek access to private property:
· Ask the landowner/operator for written permission to be on or to cross the land;
· Obtain a clear understanding and description of lands which are open to the uses for which access is sought; and
· Be respectful of land, water, fences and all other property.
Access to or across private property for watercraft use on streams and rivers, if granted by the landowner/operator, should be limited to fishing boats and canoes. We strongly oppose the addition of any rivers or streams into the category of "navigable" streams.
We oppose giving any person or governmental agency authority for access to private property for inspection or investigation without permission from the property owner or operator.
We urge the legislative branch of government, at the federal and state levels, to legislate clearly by statute, rather than relying on administrative rules, regulations, policies or guidelines. We oppose circumventing the legislative process by agencies enacting, through regulation, what the legislature rejected or did not act upon.
Any legislation that is enacted or any regulations which are proposed for promulgation must be based on: factual information, scientific knowledge, and economic impact studies.
Rules and regulations promulgated by any local unit of government or state agency should not put Kansas producers or businesses at a competitive disadvantage with any other state.
We support transparency in the rule and regulation making process and discourage the use of administrative policy and guidelines when implementing legislation and conducting agency activities.
We strongly support provisions within Kansas law which require agencies to prepare economic impact statements and statements of environmental benefit when proposing rules and regulations. Economic impact statements and fiscal notes should accurately reflect how the regulated community will be affected. We further support the periodic review and repeal of irrelevant, outdated, or obsolete statutes and regulations.
The legislature has an important role in overseeing regulatory agency activity and we encourage the legislature to actively fulfill that duty.
Policies or guidelines of agencies, governmental bodies or quasi-governmental entities should be subjected to a public input process. We prefer lawmaking by statute, but recognize public participation afforded under the current rulemaking process is preferable to imposing policies or guidelines as law.
Community owned and operated carnivals provide quality of life in rural communities. They should be exempt from overly burdensome requirements for licensing and training.
Rural Fire Protection
We support voluntary development of countywide fire protection plans to reduce the damage from rural fires, protect life and property and reduce insurance rates.
Tort Liability Reform
We support tort reform measures, including:
· Limiting the use of contingency fee arrangements;
· Providing a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded for non-economic loss;
· Prohibiting the filing of liability claims in jurisdictions other than those encompassing the location of the event from which the liability claim arises or the plaintiff's home address; and
· Prohibiting claims based on weight gain, obesity, or related conditions caused by consumption of food.
We support awarding attorney fees and court costs to successful defendants.
We support denying a plaintiff the right to sue for injuries suffered while committing a crime or while trespassing.
We support efforts to curtail lawsuits against manufacturers when injury results from intentional misuse or alteration of their products.
Trespass, Arson, Theft and Vandalism
We recommend strengthening the statutes concerning trespass, arson, theft and vandalism and the increase of penalties for these offenses. We support legislation to establish a mandatory fine and full restitution for property damaged by individuals found guilty of these crimes. We support legislation to remove landowner liability for injury and damages to trespassers, arsonists, thieves and vandals.
All utility and commercial lines, cables and pipelines should be properly installed by the service provider. Such installations should be adequately marked, registered and identified with Dig Safe. A landowner or tenant should not be held liable for any accidental or inadvertent breakage or disruption of service on any lines, cables or pipelines where the service provider improperly installed, maintained or located.
Energy exploration and development, pipeline, telecommunications companies, and electric and water utilities should be required to give prior notice, replace topsoil, repair terraces, repair roads and reseed grass, that is disturbed during construction of any facilities. Furthermore, they should mow and spray weeds, eradicate noxious weeds and trees along their easements and facilities and fence out farm animals from structures and/or harmful substances. They should adequately compensate for damage to growing crops and for damage to the land which will hinder production in future years.
Approved soil conservation practices should be utilized by all utility, telecommunications, and energy exploration and development companies. These companies should bear the cost of deepening the burial of pipelines or cables, lowering pump jacks, moving oil or gas tank batteries to corners, and moving utility poles or other structures when permanent soil and/or water conservation measures are constructed or improved by the landowner.
All agreements, including location of access roads and compensation for land and crop damages, should be signed and recorded if needed before energy exploration and development begins on the land. Right-of-way leaseholders of mineral extractions, pipelines or gathering lines are required to notify landowners of any change in ownership.
Safeguards should be developed for landowners to protect against costs involved in bringing an abstract up-to-date when these costs are the result of transactions generated by highway construction, energy, railroad or utility company.