Lawmakers moving on eminent domain legislation
Members were back at work in committee last week, considering bills sent from the Senate as well as bills that were exempted from the turnaround deadline. Among the committee highlights from the week include action on eminent domain, workman's compensation, concealed carry and non-resident tuition at Kansas colleges and universities.
The House Federal and State Affairs committee began hearings this week on House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 5040. Kansans have always been wary of the government's power of eminent domain. As a primarily rural state, the open space we enjoy has provided easy access for government projects and right of way for utilities.
A recent United States Supreme Court decision changed all that and sent the message to landowners that government had the power to take land from one owner using eminent domain and give it to another individual if that land could generate greater revenue when used for another purpose.
We in the House believe that is a direct violation of the law and the intent of eminent domain. HCR 5040 is a constitutional amendment that would strictly limit that power and ensure protection of our property. While it would require a two-third vote of both the House and Senate, we also believe this sends a strong message to those who may stretch or abuse the power of eminent domain.
Two days of hearings are scheduled this week on Senate Bill (SB) 461, and that may still not be sufficient to accommodate the expected number of conferees on the bill. Among other changes, the bill shortens from 15 years to five years the work performed by the injured party prior to the claim that would be considered when determining a percentage of disability. It is anticipated that this may result in a greater caseload before the courts, but the Department of Labor indicates that these could be absorbed using existing resources. This would result in little, if any, fiscal impact. Hearings took place Monday and Tuesday at the Capitol.
The House Federal and State Affairs committee heard testimony last Thursday on SB 418, the Personal and Family Protection Act. Commonly referred to as concealed carry, this bill would allow qualifying Kansas residents to purchase a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Permits would be good for four years and would be issued by the Kansas Attorney General. There are several exceptions including persons who have ever been convicted, placed on probation or adjudicated for a felony, adult or juvenile, in any jurisdiction. A training course in firearms safety is also expected to be required when the rules and regulations are drafted. There are also a great number of places where even those with a permit would not be allowed to carry a weapon. This bill is similar to House Bill (HB) 2798 which was considered in 2004.
If you have any additional information or if you would like to offer your opinions or suggestions regarding these issues or any others that may be coming before the Kansas House, I want to hear from you. Please contact my office by phone at (785-296-7632), or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org during the Legislative session.