HB 2273, Wind Turbines in Kansas: Our neighbors in southern #HD5 know especially well the contentious nature of wind energy in Kansas. The Anderson County Review and Dane Hicks have covered the issue extensively, including in their Feb. 12 issue. You can see the current status of HB 2273 by searching the bill number on the Kansas Legislature website. As you’ll see, we had two full days of extensive hearings, with proponents going on Feb 19, and opponents on Feb. 21. To be sure, I received approximately 600-700 emails on this topic alone, from individuals from all over Kansas.

The topic is complex, subject to existing local laws such as zoning regulations that may vary by county and for zoned versus unzoned areas. Proponents, such as our very own David Fisher, persuasively advocated for a statewide system to address multiple concerns like health issues, “gag orders,” quality of life, economic and business growth, property values, and many others. Opponents, on the other hand, pointed out perceived flaws in the bill, such as a 1.5-mile setback restriction, which they argued would effectively kill the development of any future wind farm in Kansas.

After careful consideration and working closely with our local experts such as David Fisher and Mike Burns, we mostly agreed that Kansas does need a statewide framework with minimal procedural safeguards. In the eyes of the majority of my colleagues, they found the flaws with HB 2273 to be too pervasive to fix for the time being, so the bill did not pass out of committee.

Voting with two of my conservative Republican colleagues, I voted to move HB 2273 out of committee without recommendation so that it would receive continued attention and work on the House floor. Although that motion failed, we were able to shed much light on the many problems in this area, and I am optimistic that we will be able to carry the good work forward such that we can put together a better bill in the next session which will benefit all Kansans, and our neighbors in Linn County in particular.

#LeadTheWay, Education & Mental Health:

In just a few short weeks in our State Capitol, I’m proud to report that we here in #HD5 are #LeadingTheWay #ForTheKids. As part of my service on the House Education Committee, Chairman Steve Huebert (R-Valley Center) asked me to take the lead in addressing an issue that has been plaguing our schools and kids for decades: bullying.

Working with fellow freshmen colleagues Rep. Adam Thomas (R-Olathe) and Rep. Renee Erickson (R-Wichita), we poured several hours into creating HB 2330, an act with policies and procedures to prohibit and investigate bullying. It was introduced on February 14, 2019. A public hearing was held on Feb. 20, 2019.

More details to follow as the legislation moves forward, but I’m pleased to report that we’ve built a broad coalition of support (both R’s and D’s) to focus on this issue, and I’m optimistic that we will see positive results and action this session. While much room for improvement remains at every level of education and mental health, I’m encouraged by recent leadership and action on these issues.

#OneBrighter: Please send your nominations, short stories, and/or photos to me at Mark.Samsel@house.ks.gov. If possible, be sure to include their name and mailing address so we can send them a proper #HDhigh5! Please also include your own name and mailing address.