Government Relations Committee
2017-2018 Government Relations Committee
Travis Stryker (Chair)
What KSPE does for you!
Legislation KSPE has directly impacted for the better of the licensed engineer
KSPE Testifies in Support of Amusement Ride Safety
KSPE recently weighed in on House Bill 2389, which addresses amusement park safety. The bill adds regulations for amusement parks and requires rides to be annually inspected. The bill received national attention due to the water slide tragedy in Kansas City last summer.
HB 2389 amended the statute’s definition of a “qualified inspector” to be a licensed engineer with specified experience in the amusement ride field. KSPE Executive Director, Travis Lowe, testified in support of the bill, explaining that PEs are the most creditable people in the industry. KSPE suggested an amendment to the bill to define “licensed engineer” to ensure this term is linked to the rest of the statutes that explain engineer licensure requirements with the Kansas Board of Technical Professions.
The House Federal & State Affairs Committee adopted the recommended change when they worked the bill. The contents of the bill were placed in SB 70 and debated on the House floor. SB 70 passed 124-1 and was adopted by the Senate 35-2.
KSPE Helped Protect Qualifications Based Selection
Two of the state efficiency audit’s eight recommendations for the Kansas Department of Transportation included suggesting the Legislature repeal the state’s Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) statute. KSPE strongly opposed the recommendation for the state to stop using QBS on state highway projects and the lobby team spent countless hours working this issue. KSPE, with the assistance of ACEC Kansas and several chambers of commerce, among others, has been able to stop this recommendation from moving forward.
Hearings to consider the repeal of QBS took place in three committees during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions. None of the committees have adopted the audit’s recommendation.
KSPE Stops 2% cut to KanGrow Engineering Fund
During the 2016 session, two identical bills would have caused harm to the KanGrow Engineering Fund. KanGrow is a ten-year program that provides support to Kansas State University, University of Kansas, and Wichita State University. Expanded Lottery Act Revenue Funds (ELARF) is distributes $10.5 million from each year, which is divided equally between the three universities with a dollar for dollar matching program from non-state sources.
The state’s efficiency audit suggested several programs, including KanGrow, be reduced by a certain percentage to pay for existing administrative staff costs. SB 493’s call for reducing two percent of the KanGrow $10.5 million equates to $210,000 per year. Unfortunately, there was no math shown by audit to arrive at such a high figure. At this cost, it would infer perhaps at least 4 FTEs are used to administer this program. Moreover, given the dollar for dollar matching program from non-state sources, the actual fiscal impact of the bill would be $420,000.
KSPE opposed Senate Bill 493 to defend the KanGrow Engineering Fund. After an intense lobbying effort, the Senate Commerce Committee amended the bill to remove the section relating to KanGrow. The rest of the bill became eventually became law.
KSPE Protects KanGrow Funding Source
KSPE worked to block another threat to KanGrow Engineering fund. KSPE Government Relations Chairman, Travis Stryker, testified in opposition to Senate Bill 463 in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. SB 463 would abolish several revenue funds and direct the money to the State General Fund. This includes the Expanded Lottery Act Revenues Fund that contains the funding source of the KanGrow Engineering Fund. Under this bill, KanGrow would be funded from the State General Fund (SGF). No action was taken on the bill by the committee.
Legislation that is still in progress
KSPE President-Elect Wayne Nelson Testifies in Support of Fuel Tax to Increase Highway Funds
In March 2017, KSPE President-Elect, Wayne Nelson, provided testimony to the Senate Assessment & Taxation Committee on Senate Bill 224. The bill would increase the fuel tax by a nickel. This new revenue would be sent to the State Highway Fund where it would be protected from transfers by the Kansas Constitution. The progress of the current Comprehensive Transportation Plan, known as T-WORKS, has slowed due to multiple transfers of highway money to the State General Fund. Many supporters of infrastructure funding supported the bill.
SB 224 would help backfill nearly one-third of the projected highway transfers for the next two fiscal years. KSPE does not relish the idea of increasing fuel taxes. However, understanding the fiscal climate of the State and the remaining projects left uncompleted in the T-WORKS program, SB 224 could help make good on the promise the ten-year plan, which started seven years ago. No action has been taken on this bill thus far but KSPE hopes for movement on the issue during the 2018 session.
KSPE Supports State Water Plan Fund
KSPE member David Pope testified in support of a bill to add funding to the State Water Plan Fund. KSPE cares deeply about the proper management and protection of the state’s water resources. The organization followed the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Task Force very closely. The bill would add over $6 million to the State Water Plan Fund. KSPE hopes for movement on the issue during the 2018 session.