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Minutes for SB153 - Committee on Agriculture

Short Title

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

Minutes Content for Mon, Mar 9, 2020

Chair Highland opened the hearing on SB153 at 4:06pm.

Kyle Hamilton, Assistant Revisor, Office of The Revisor of Statutes, provided an overview of SB153 and the statutes that it affects.  (Attachment 6)   There is a Fiscal Note for SB153.


Bob Jurgens, Director, Bureau of Environmental Remediation, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), appeared before the Committee in support of SB153.  (Attachment 7)    The Spills Program addressed nearly 1,000 reported spills in Fiscal Year 2019. Many of the reported spills are of small volumes and of relatively low risk to human health and the environment. This bill consolidates the authority for the Secretary to operate a spill program into a single statute. This bill will improve transparency with stakeholders and ensure better adherence to the requirements of the statute.     

Mr Jurgens responded to questions from the Committee.

Michael Gillaspie, Director of Government Relations, ONEOK, appeared before the Committee in support of SB153.  (Attachment 8)   We recognize that the current requirement to report all releases, regardless of quantity, is unnecessary.  Small volume releases are typically addressed quickly by ONEOK and do not warrant reporting and followup investigations by the agency. As KDHE states, the proposed amendments to the Act are necessary to facilitate regulatory action to establish more appropriate reporting requirements for releases. We support this proposed legislative action.      

Mr Gillaspie stood for questions from the Committee.  

Aaron Popelka, Vice President, Legal & Government Affairs, Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), appeared before the Committee in support of SB153.  (Attachment 9)   After the Senate hearing last year, the stakeholders sat down over the summer months and discussed our views and concerns. As a direct result of those conversations, a compromise amendment was reached between the agency, agricultural groups, and other interested stakeholders. That amendment was adopted by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and is incorporated in the bill before the Committee today.

KLA is now a proponent of SB153. The bill, as amended, appropriately limits liability for agricultural operations, establishes reportable quantities for the regulated community, and gives the regulatory agency sufficient authority to identify and clean up pollutants. 

Mr Popelka stood for questions from the Committee.  

Written testimony in support of SB153 was received from:

  • Randy E. Stookey, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association  (Attachment 10)
  • Rick Bean, Principal Geologist, Senior Vice President, GSI Engineering LLC   (Attachment 11)
  • Shahira Stafford, Kansas Cooperative Council   (Attachment 12)

There were no Opponents or Neutrals of SB153.

The hearing on SB153 was closed at 4:24pm.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 4:25pm.