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Minutes for SB153 - Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Short Title

Providing for department of health and environment response operations for water and soil pollutant release, discharge or escape.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 19, 2019


Chairperson Kerschen opened the hearing on SB153.

Tamera Lawrence of the Revisor of Statutes Office explained the bill.

Bob Jurgens testified in support of the bill.  He explained that the bill amends the existing Water Supply and Sewage Act to strengthen and clarify the ability of the Department of Health and Environment to maintain a spill program.  It consolidates the authority of the Secretary to operate a spill program into a single statute.  In addition it provides clear direction as to the duties of the Secretary, the responsibilities of all the parties involved during a release, the ability for the state to cost recover expenses incurred during a response, and the power for the Department to levy penalties for violating the statute.(Attachment 3) 

Randy Stookey spoke in favor of the bill.  He noted that while he agreed with the intent of the bill, he felt that there were certain areas in which the language needed to be clarified.  He has proposed three amendments to the bill which he believes will make it more acceptable.(Attachment 4) 

Tom Palace testified in support of the bill.  He also agrees with the intent of the bill, but questions the amount of a $10,000 fine per violation as too high.  He would like to see the fine reduced to $5,000.  He also believes that the fine needs to be directed at the person who caused the spill.(Attachment 5)

Michael Gillaspie spoke in support of the bill.  He believes the proposed changes to the Water Supply and Sewage Act are necessary to facilitate regulatory action to establish more appropriate reporting requirements for releases.(Attachment 6)

Aaron Popelka testified in opposition to the bill.  He believes that the proposed definition of pollution in the bill is too broad and could give the Kansas Department of Health and Environment wide sweeping authority over the most common and innocuous substances.  He is also concerned that KDHE could use their authority against everyday activities of farmers and ranchers if limits are not put in place. (Attachment 7)

Written proponent testimony was provided by:

Rhett Heflin-CHS McPherson Refinery(Attachment 8)

Shahira Stafford-Kansas Cooperative Council(Attachment 9)

Kelly Kelsey-Westar Energy(Attachment 10)

Chairperson Kerschen closed the hearing on SB153 and adjourned the meeting at 9:30.