Legislative Update

Terry Humphrey

Terry Humphrey

Legislative Update: AIA Kansas Makes Voice Heard at Statehouse

By Terry Humphrey, Executive Director

Given the state’s budget issues, it’s not surprising that there has been a lot of discussion at the Statehouse about ways to save and manage money more efficiently.  AIA has recently submitted testimony on a couple of issues of particular interest to architects engaged in public-private projects with the State of Kansas.

House Substitute for SB249 (formerly House Bill 2703) would limit the authority of state agencies to “enter into indebtedness” and complicates the process for funding state capital improvement projects in general. The bill significantly changes the way state agencies “do business” with private entities by essentially requiring legislative approval to move forward on any project requiring funding. (You may recall, the original bill was a response to KU’s decision to use out-of-state funding.)

AIA Kansas strongly opposed the bill. As we observed in our testimony of March 2, “this bill appears to limit the ability of any state agency to move forward on any project, at any time, for any construction cost, and with any type of funding supporting it, unless it has specific legislative approval.… These inefficient review and approval processes could delay projects by an entire year or more, with corresponding increases in costs….They could also jeopardize projects that require a more efficient and timely implementation, resulting in lost opportunities with private industry and research partners.”

The good news is that the most recent version of the bill includes a recommendation by AIA Kansas and others to create a commission to more fully review the issue of public-private partnerships (aka P-3). The 11-member commission, which will organize after the session is over, would have one appointee from AIA Kansas.

H Sub for SB 249 passed the House of Representatives on March 21. Now the bill goes to the Senate for a motion to concur or nonconcur to the House amendments. It’s likely that the Senate will nonconcur and send the bill to a conference committee for review.

QBS & the A&M Efficiency Report. Earlier this month, the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee received testimony from AIA Kansas strongly opposing recommendations to eliminate the Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) process currently used by the Kansas Department of Transportation. The recommendations were included in the Transportation & Turnpike section of the recently published statewide efficiency report I discussed in the Feb. 19 legislative update. In our testimony, AIA Kansas supported QBS a well-founded practice that ensures Kansas taxpayers get the best value and safest roadways for their money. On March 17, the Senate Transportation Committee discussed the same A&M efficiency recommendations and again  AIA Kansas submitted testimony supporting the retention of QBS. You can read our testimony here.

Also on our watchlist: HB 2721, currently in the House General Government Budget committee, is another bill introduced in response to the statewide efficiency report. This bill would create three committees to examine ways in which Kansas boards and commissions could share or consolidate resources. Each 15-member committee would be responsible for a long list of boards and commissions set forth in the bill, and would make recommendations to optimize their efficiency. Committee members would be chosen from the respective groups being studied. The state board of technical professions and the state building advisory commission are among those listed to be reviewed by the general regulatory committee. SB 499, requires school districts to strategically source specific spend categories through the department of administration. This bill was heard in Senate Ways and Means Committee, on March 14. The bill appears to be in response to the A&M efficiency study and places all “services” over $20,000 under the state bid law.  AIA Kansas is opposed to the bill.

Other bills we are following this session. Links have been provided so that you can read each bill in its entirety:

SB 338. This  bill addresses abandoned properties and their “blighting influence” across the state. It would revise certain legal provisions to allow cities and nonprofits to gain temporary possession of these properties for rehabilitation purposes. Passed Senate 32-8. Recommended for passage by House Commerce. Now on General Orders in the House.

SB 365. This bill, enacting the Contaminated Property Redevelopment Act, remains in the House Commerce Committee. “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 House 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.

Legislative Calendar:

March 21: Last day for consideration of opposite-chamber’s bills, except bills from exempt committees.

March 25: Drop Dead Day, the last day for considering bills, except Omnibus and Omnibus reconciliation bills and governor’s vetoes. Also marks the first adjournment before Spring Break.

April 20: Consensus Revenue Estimating Group meets.

April 27: Veto Session begins


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