Legislative Update: New Legislators & Bills of Interest

Terry Humphrey

Terry Humphrey

By Terry Humphrey, Executive Director

New Legislators. The Legislature has five new members this session: Rep. Chuck Weber (R), Wichita; Rep. Ken Rahjes (R), Agra; Rep. Ben Scott (D), Topeka; Rep. Henry Helgerson (D) Eastborough; and Rep. Greg Lewis (R), St. John. So far I’ve met with four of the five to introduce AIA Kansas and let them know that we are a resource for them this session.

Worth Noting: The Senate confirmed Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave yesterday. Soave replaces Pat George, who retired last year.

New Bills. Here are some of the bills we are following this session. Links have been provided so that you can read each bill in its entirety:

SB 338. The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, February 2, for SB 338, a new bill addressing abandoned properties and their “blighting influence” across the state. The bill would revise certain legal provisions to allow cities and nonprofits to gain temporary possession of these properties for rehabilitation purposes. A similar bill was introduced last year and passed out of committee but was stricken from the calendar in May.

SB 365. This bill in the Senate Commerce Committee enacts the Contaminated Property Redevelopment Act. “The intent is to provide a mechanism to allow real property with environmental contamination to be purchased without the purchaser becoming liable for cleanup costs. This act establishes the contaminated property redevelopment fund to help municipalities redevelop contaminated and potentially contaminated properties.”

SB 366. This bill in the Senate Commerce Committee prohibits “any ordinance or resolution that would have the effect of controlling the amount of rent charged or the purchase price agreed upon between the parties to the transaction for the lease or purchase of privately-owned residential or commercial property.”

HB 2539. This bill in the House Local Government Committee allows counties to repair, rehab or remove unsafe structures in unincorporated platted areas.

Sign Up for the Capitol Architects Program

Most legislators know very little about the role of architects in their communities. They don’t realize your work creates jobs and economic growth—unless you tell them. To help lawmakers better understand your important role in the state’s economy, last year AIA Kansas launched the Capitol Architects program. The program is designed to build relationships with legislators and familiarize them with AIA Kansas.

If you would like to participate in the program, we will begin by scheduling an appointment in Topeka with the legislator(s) in your district. I will be pleased to accompany you on this  introductory meeting and help familiarize you with the process. Our goal is to let your legislators know that you are not just a constituent but a knowledgeable resource that he or she can turn to on issues related to your profession.

This program will require you to travel to Topeka. If you are interested, please email me at  terry@aiaks.org. Look at your calendar and select two or three possible meeting dates between now and April 1. Based on your availability, I will set the appointments and create the talking points.   If you have questions about the program, please call my cell at 785-221-8215. I look forward to seeing you at the capitol!

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