Transportation and Utilities

Transportation and Utilities

Agricultural Transportation

TU-1

Regulations regarding the transporting of agricultural equipment, vehicles and implements of husbandry must be practical. Consideration should be given to the type of use, practice and design of the equipment, vehicle or implement.

Regulations should also recognize the unique characteristics of agricultural transportation, distance to markets, seasonal needs, and the need to maximize efficiencies in transport.

We encourage the use of roadside reflective flexible markers to reduce damage to farm equipment.

ATV’s, UTV’s and micro-utility trucks used in farming and ranching should be statutorily defined as implements of husbandry.

We encourage flexibility in axle and bridging limits for trucks transporting commodities at harvest from field to the first market or point of storage. Our purpose is to carry loads which are more compatible with the vehicle design.

We are supportive of the inland water transportation industry. However, the release of water from Kansas reservoirs for navigation should provide greater direct benefit to Kansas, than if that same water remains in storage or is put to beneficial use in Kansas.

Bicycle Rider and Pedestrian Protection

TU-2

We support development and utilization of devices or materials to make pedestrians, bicycles and riders more readily visible in order to prevent collisions with motor vehicles. We encourage bicycle riders to utilize proper protective devices and clothing. For additional safety, we support legislation requiring bicyclists to ride single file when operating a bicycle on Kansas roadways.

Comprehensive Transportation Program

TU-3

The mobility of Kansans, the public health and safety of our citizens, and the growth and development of all segments of the state's economy require coordination in construction and maintenance of a comprehensive transportation system. We support a well-designed, adequately funded transportation system for the state of Kansas. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) should strengthen the Aviation, Rail and Public Transportation sections of the department.

County Highway Fund Distribution

TU-4

Funding sent to counties from federal and state governments for assistance on maintaining roads and bridges should be increased.

When funds are distributed to local units of government, major consideration should be given to the number and size of bridges a county must maintain in addition to county road miles, vehicle registrations and vehicle miles driven.

Highway and road infrastructure maintenance and improvement projects that serve production agriculture should remain a funding priority under the T-WORKS transportation plan and any future comprehensive transportation funding programs.

Driver's Licenses

TU-5

The Kansas Department of Revenue should provide a driver's license examiner in every county seat at least once a month. We support legislation to require written notification by certified mail to be given to persons whenever their driver’s licenses are suspended or reinstated.

We support a graduated licensing system in Kansas that includes the following:

1. A learner’s permit requiring up to one year of real world practice under safe conditions with a licensed adult. Students should be eligible to begin driving with a learner’s permit at age 14.

2. An intermediate permit which allows students to drive with reasonable restrictions on the number of passengers they may carry and on their ability to drive at night. Students should be required to complete a state endorsed driver’s education course before a full license can be issued.

3. An unrestricted or full license which can be granted shortly after the student’s 16 th birthday.

4. The ability for fourteen-year-olds to qualify for a farm permit which allows them to drive in connection with production agriculture activities, provided the youth actually lives or works on a farm or ranch.

We support a strong Driver’s Education program in the schools, to include a significant increase in behind-the-wheel driving time for the student.

We oppose issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants or undocumented workers.

Energy

TU-6

We support the Kansas Corporation Commission’s (KCC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) roles in monitoring service quality and equitable rate treatment for all segments of the energy industry falling within their respective jurisdictions through statute, regulation or utility industry restructuring. During any transition period from a regulated to a deregulated market, regulatory structures and oversight should facilitate the move to a competitive market where service providers compete on a level playing field. The KCC, when asked to approve a rate increase, should not recommend a rate higher than the rate requested by the power supplier.

The Kansas Corporation Commission should be expanded from three to seven members appointed by the Governor. At least one member should represent each Kansas Congressional District with the remaining members appointed at-large. No more than four Commissioners should be from the same political party and no two members should reside in the same county.

Rules and regulations promulgated as a result of legislation, including utility industry restructuring, should assure Kansas is not at a competitive disadvantage with any other state.

We support:

1. Development of a statewide energy plan that promotes the use of

renewable energy and the use of tax credits and other incentives

to achieve this plan.

2. The legislature considering incentives to encourage local majority ownership and opportunities for new generation cooperatives in the production of renewable energies.

3. Revenues generated from any taxes on renewable energy remaining in the taxing area where the energy is produced.

4. Expansion and development of transmission capacity to create opportunities for the development of alternative energy resources across the state.

5. Current law which allows excess power generated by producer owned and operated renewable energy sources to be sold to utility companies at 150% of the avoided cost of production. We encourage the practice of Net Billing as a mechanism to measure production and appropriately compensate individual producers. Net metering, if considered, should not result in negative economic impacts to neighboring consumers.

6. Community and/or cooperative based renewable energy development. Schools should be encouraged to consider renewable energy development as an educational opportunity and a potential cost reducer.

7. The 25 x ‘25 vision of Agriculture's Role in Ensuring U.S. Energy Security which supports 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2025 be produced from renewable sources.

8. Increased use of nuclear and solar power generation.

9. Seeking new technical advances for burying utility lines.

10. Existing law which provides agricultural producers the opportunity to create non-profit utilities.

11. Agriculture land with utility easements should be taxed at agriculture use value.

Property rights of all landowners in areas developed for wind power energy generation and transmission should be protected. Decisions regarding siting guidelines and other potential zoning or restrictions are best made by state government after public input and comment. Regulations should provide area landowners adequate protection of setbacks, decommissioning issues and environmental issues, but should not put Kansas at a disadvantage in developing wind energy.

The KCC will immediately notify all affected county commissions and all state legislators by certified mail when any new entity applies for and when any new entity is granted utility status. KCC must also serve same notice when any new request for new construction of over 25 miles is filed with the KCC.

Landowners should be annually compensated at comparable rates as similar structures for property condemned by utilities for new transmission lines or any other below-ground utility equipment. Transmission lines and other utilities should be situated on section lines or property lines when practical. Further, landowners and/or tenants should not be liable for unintentional or inadvertent damage to utility structures.

We oppose:

1. The legitimization of "wind rights.”

2. The imposition of a moratorium on the production of wind energy in Kansas. Legislative or regulatory efforts should not prevent agricultural producers from voluntarily participating in this industry.

Highway and Bridge Construction

TU-7

The Kansas Department of Transportation should ensure that investments in highway construction result in roadways that are high quality, long lasting and require minimal maintenance. The engineering, design and construction standards should withstand the type of traffic utilizing the road.

There should be county, federal and state government cost-sharing and financing so that road and bridge construction and replacement may proceed without further delay. Specifications and standards for roads and bridges, including safety and warning devices, should be determined cooperatively by state and local engineers to meet future needs. We recommend the use of only certified weed-free forage as mulch along highways and in other reclamation projects within the state.

When roundabouts are constructed they should be built to promote safety and accommodate ag equipment and large vehicles.

Highway Deicing

TU-8

In order to reduce damage to roadways and bridges, protect from salt pollution, and because of other environmental concerns, we support the replacement of salt as a deicer on roads, bridges and highways with alternative products including calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and other agriculturally-based products.

Highway Development and Funding

TU-9

We support the concept of highway users paying a significant share of construction and maintenance costs of highways, roads and bridges through a fiscally responsible mix of user fees. User fees should include, but not be limited to, gallonage taxes, vehicle registration fees and sales taxes on motor vehicles. Where such fees are imposed revenues generated through collections should be channeled into transportation programs. We oppose any downgrading of existing U.S. highway designations in Kansas or the shift of any funds now designated for highways.

Toll road and turnpike construction in Kansas should not be contemplated unless a feasibility study on any such project shows the toll road or turnpike will pay its own way. We are opposed to the use of State General Fund revenue to guarantee toll road or turnpike bonds. Highway design and planning should avoid, where feasible, diagonal routing. Diagonal cuts are most disruptive to agricultural operations.

We support maintaining five strand barb wire fencing on Interstate Highways where it exists. Highway design, development, construction and signage should assist rather than deter economic development in Kansas communities.

We support allowing farmers the opportunity to hay all Kansas roadsides where it is safe and when appropriate.

When existing billboards along federal and state highways are taken due to expansion of right-of-way, historical sites, tourist attractions, businesses and organizations should be allowed to relocate such signs as close to their previous position as possible.

Littering and Trash Dumping

TU-10

We urge vigorous enforcement of litter and dumping laws and regulations. Penalties for violating these provisions should be increased. We support recycling, incentives for recycling and the use of reusable and biodegradable containers.

Railroads

TU-11

Rail car service needs to be provided on a timely basis. Shippers should be notified at least one week in advance of expected car arrival. Arrival time frames should be narrowed from the general 15-day contract period currently being used. We encourage appropriate state agencies and/or legislative bodies to examine "tipping fee" practices.

The abandonment of rail lines is a matter of intense concern to agricultural producers. We support the concept that carriers should not be permitted to easily abandon existing lines. We support necessary legislation that could facilitate the sale of rail lines which otherwise might be abandoned, provided it does not violate the property rights of the underlying landowners. Kansas should also challenge the federal government to remove federal incentives and regulations that encourage railroad abandonment or rail banking at the expense of local transportation needs.

Increased public and private initiatives to assist short line Railroads and Class III carriers to obtain rail lines that may otherwise be abandoned should be encouraged. All short line Railroads should have the ability to access lines of major rail carriers.

We support the establishment of new commuter rail lines on existing short line tracks in Kansas.

Kansas should provide tax incentives and other appropriate assistance to railroad companies that agree to upgrade rail lines and provide long-term service to shippers.

Railroad rights-of-way and the railroad’s portion of access roads and crossings should be maintained so long as the railroad continues to retain the rights-of-way, even if rail service is discontinued along the corridor.

We encourage railroads to rail bank only those corridors that have a reasonable probability of being utilized for rail service in the future.

Right-of-Way Abandonment

TU-12

Right-of-way which is abandoned or where service is discontinued should promptly revert to the adjacent landowners. This should apply to railroad right-of-way and to highway and utility right-of-way.

We support repeal of the National Trails System Act authorizing rail banking and the conversion of rail beds for trail development. We oppose the use of federal or state tax revenues for development, enhancement or maintenance of rail banked rights-of-way or trail amenities.

Returning corridors no longer used for rail service to the underlying landowner is a top priority. In situations where a rail trail is proposed, any agency or entity seeking to develop a trail on a railroad right-of-way in Kansas should be required to have the approval of both city and county governing bodies in which or through which the trail may pass.

We support state law, which places conditions on rail trail development and operation in Kansas. We encourage the legislature to strengthen enforcement of this legislation.

We support compensating landowners for their land when it is converted to public recreational purposes.

Right-of-Way/Easement Reclamation

TU-13

In construction projects where mulch or ground cover is used, best management practices should be employed to prevent the spread of disease, fungi, invasive plant species and insect infestation to the adjacent fields.

Rural Communications

TU-14

We support every home and business in Kansas having access to a high-speed communication infrastructure at a reasonable cost. We support a vibrant high speed broadband network that delivers telemedicine applications, distance learning applications for K-12, higher education and continuing education, and gives libraries the ability to provide interactive content for rural citizens.

Communication service providers should have access to funds (such as, but not limited to, the Universal Service Fund, Rural Electric and USDA Rural Development funds) to maintain affordable service for customers in rural communities.

We support efforts to provide consistent and efficient cellular telephone service across the state. Providers should take steps to ensure coverage during times of severe weather or natural disasters.