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KDWPT TRACKS 2014 LEGISLATURE

April 10, 2014

Variety of bills could impact outdoor recreation

TOPEKA – On Sunday, April 6, the 2014 session of the Kansas Legislature adjourned until April 30. While school funding was a focus of debate prior to adjournment, throughout the session, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) followed a variety of bills that could impact wildlife and outdoor recreation. The following includes brief summaries of bills tracked closely by KDWPT. 

Senate Bill 272: This bill was introduced to remove the current limit on the percentage of acres within a Kansas county that may be enrolled in controlled shooting areas (CSA), commonly referred to as hunting preserves. Current law limits the number of CSA acres in a county to 3 percent of the county’s total acreage. The bill was amended, increasing the county cap to 5 percent. It passed the Senate on February 12, passed the House on March 12 and was signed by the Governor on April 4.

Senate Bill 276: This bill would enact the State Sovereignty Over Non-migratory Wildlife Act and was introduced in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announcement that adding the lesser prairie chicken to the Threatened and Endangered Species List was warranted. It passed the Senate 30-10 on February 12. It was amended significantly by the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and placed on House General Orders. KDWPT supports the House Committee version of the bill.

Senate Bill 281: This bill would remove the redbelly snake and smooth earth snake from the state Threatened and Endangered Species List established under the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. This bill had a hearing on January 30 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources where it remains. KDWPT opposed the bill.

Senate Bill 323: This bill would require that conservation easements, created on or after July 1, 2014, be terminated upon the death of the grantor or upon a specified term of years, prohibiting perpetual conservation easements. On April 4, this bill failed on Senate Emergency Final Action, 23-16. KDWPT opposed this bill.

Senate Bill 357: As introduced, this bill would have allowed a hunter who has not completed an approved hunter education course to purchase three separate deferrals (apprentice licenses), each valid for the license year during which it is purchased, before hunter education is required. Currently, a hunter may purchase a one-time deferral of hunter education completion. This bill passed 40-0 in the Senate. In the House committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, this bill was amended to allow two separate deferrals, rather than the proposed three, and passed the House 97-26 and was placed in conference committee where it remains. KDWPT supported this bill.

Senate Bill 366: This bill would authorize KDWPT to purchase a parcel of land containing 397 acres in Cherokee County. Funding for the purchase would come from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment program of the Department of the Interior. This bill passed the Senate 28-12 and was introduced to the House and referred to the Committee on Appropriations, where it remains. KDWPT supports this bill. 

Senate Bill 370: This bill would authorize KDWPT to purchase a parcel of land containing 484 acres in Pottawatomie County. The land is bordered on two sides by the Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area and would provide better access to this public hunting land. Seventy-five percent of the funding for the purchase would come from the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund. This bill passed the Senate, 27-13 and was introduced to the House and referred to the Committee on Appropriations, where it remains. KDWPT supports this bill.

Senate Sub. For House Bill 2118: This bill proposed repealing the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Act. It was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the committee recommended the bill be passed. It was placed on Senate General Orders but was stricken from the calendar. KDWPT opposed this bill.

House Bill 2422: This bill cleans up the definition of watercraft for the purpose of taxation, which initially passed in 2013. The bill was amended to require county average tax rates be the levies used to calculate tax on watercraft. It passed the House as amended 118-0, passed the Senate 40-0 and was signed by the Governor on April 4.

House Bill2538: This bill would amend K.S.A. 32-703, which says that ownership of wildlife in the state, not held in private ownership, are hereby declared to be in the state, to give landowners first right of first refusal to all wildlife illegally hunted on such landowner's land. This bill passed the House 106-17 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. KDWPT opposed this bill.

House Bill2595: This bill would name two state fossils; the tylosaurus and the pteranodon. The tylosaurus, a giant mosasaur, which inhabited the great inland sea that covered portions of Kansas during the cretaceous period of the mesozoic era would be designated the official marine fossil of the state of Kansas. The Pteranodon, a great winged pterosaur with a wingspread of more than 24 feet, which flew over Kansas during the cretaceous period of the mesozoic era would be designated the official flying fossil of the state of Kansas. This bill is passed the House as amended 96-27, passed the Senate 40-0 and was signed by the Governor on April 4. KDWPT supported this bill.

House Bill 2626: This bill would authorize KDWPT to allow persons issued valid hunting licenses and big game permits to use leashed tracking dogs to track and find dead, wounded or injured big game. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. The bill was tabled in committee as a result of potential regulatory action by the KDWPT.

House Bill2627: This bill would remove the requirement of hunter education completion for those who hold concealed carry permits. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. This bill had a hearing on March 17, 2014 and saw no further action. KDWPT opposed this bill.

House Bill 2694: This bill would make hunting on any private land without landowner written permission criminal hunting, removing current requirements that landowners post or mark land as requiring written permission. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and had a hearing on February 19, 2014. KDWPT opposed the bill.

There is still the possibility action on bills that have passed at least one house during the veto session, which begins April 30.

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