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Minutes for SB194 - Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Short Title

Amending groundwater management district water user charges.

Minutes Content for Mon, Mar 20, 2017

Chairman Kerschen opened the hearing on SB194.

Tim Boese testified in support of the bill. He said that the District Board of Water Management  is asking for the ability to assess the District members they represent, including themselves or the entity they represent, at a higher rate if it is needed to manage and protect the Equus Beds Aquifer.(Attachment 1)

Calvin Kissick testified in support of the bill.  He believes that raising the assessment cap is will have a positive outcome because the assessment dollars raised will stay in the local area.  Members directly benefit from the Ground Management Programs and a sustainable water supply will provide positive economic impact.(Attachment 2)

Sean Miller spoke in support of the bill.  He believes that each individual water district faces different challenges.  With the variety of issues and challenges faced today, GMDs and individual water users will need additional tools and money to implement new ideas.(Attachment 3)

Written testimony in support of the bill was provided by Kent Askren with Kansas Farm Bureau.(Attachment 4 )

Joseph Pajor testified in opposition to the bill.  He believes that to increase the cap on fees just because one of the districts has reached the current level is not consistent with the concept of state law setting a cap in the first place. Language should be included in the bill that requires that the make-up of a Groundwater Management governing body be proportional by water use sector  to the rights within the water district. (Attachment 5)

Aaron Popelka testified in opposition to the bill.  He believes that the bill is inequitable for non-water users and that the land assessment is a property tax.  He suggested an amendment that would delete the increase in land assessment and make other changes to the bill.(Attachment 6)

Sean Miller provided  neutral testimony on behalf of Groundwater Management District 3.  He suggested two items to bring to the Committee's attention. The first suggestion was that if the cap on GMD assessments is increased , it be increased uniformly on all districts.  Secondly, he would like for the current law that authorizes a greater annual user charge for water used outside the District be preserved.(Attachment 7)

Chairman Kerschen closed the hearing on SB194.