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Kelly signs bill lifting state investment in Kansas’ network of airports to $15 million annually

In World
April 19, 2024

Sen. Mike Petersen, a Wichita Republican and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, welcomed Gov. Laura Kelly‘s signature on a bill increasing to $15 million annually the state’s investment in Kansas airport infrastructure. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation supported by more than 150 legislators that would triple to $15 million annual state investment in modernization and infrastructure repairs of airports in Kansas.

On Thursday, Kelly put her signature to House Bill 2498 to broaden resources dedicated to improvements at 109 airfields. The Kansas Department of Transportation recommended lawmakers adjust the current $5 million state appropriation, which hadn’t been increased since 2013.

A recent state assessment of airports in Kansas indicated runway pavement conditions were deteriorating. The budget could be used for that type of safety upgrade, automated weather observation systems, rehabilitation of existing aviation facilities or the planning and building of new infrastructure.

“These airports are very important to our economy and to providing air ambulance access to trauma centers for many of our rural citizens,” said Sen. Mike Petersen, the Wichita Republican chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

KDOT secretary Mike Reed said the collection of airports in Kansas generated at least $9 billion in annual economic output and investment of tax dollars into the system translated into jobs and better quality of life for Kansans. The bill passed the Senate 34-5 and the House 117-4.

Power plants, beer

Meanwhile, the Democratic governor signed House Bill 2527 forbidding the Kansas Corporation Commission from approving retirement of fossil fuel or nuclear generating units unless the utility owner demonstrated it wouldn’t undercut regional electricity rate competitiveness or harm consumers. The law mandated a utility interested in shutting down a generation station had to show it could meet consumer demand with remaining assets.

The legislation unanimously passed by the House and adopted in the Senate 33-2 would amend the state’s net metering statute to increase a cap on the amount of power renewable energy systems, including solar, could sell to their utility provider through the state’s electric grid.

Kelly signed House Bill 2124 to alter state regulation of microbreweries so those companies could distribute beer or hard cider, but would reduce the number of barrels a microbrewery could manufacture and store each year from 60,000 to 30,000.

It also required delivery of a report by Jan. 15, 2025, to the Legislature and governor on compliance of licensed microbreweries with state tax laws, rules and regulations on the sale of beverages.

The microbrew legislation, which exited the Senate 37-2 and the House 118-3, included language enabling a microbrewery owner, stockholder or director to have an ownership interest in a licensed club, drinking establishment or caterer.

The right of way

Kelly signed into law House Bill 2588 to establish boundaries for county governments issuing permits and assessing fees on telecommunications providers applying to make use of the public right of way. The measure would guarantee carriers the right to construct and maintain poles as well as conduit, cable, switches and related equipment within a public right-of-way under jurisdiction of a county government.

The law mandated counties treat similar telecommunications providers in a competitively neutral manner when making decisions on permits and fees. It was adopted by the House 113-7 and in the Senate 26-7.

Under House Bill 2481, passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed into law by Kelly, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe #3415 would be designated the official state steam locomotive and the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad would become the official state heritage railroad.

The law also assigned names to portions of Kansas highways, including portions of K-96 as the PFC Henry Lee Fisher Memorial Highway and the 96th Infantry Division Memorial Highway; a portion of US Highway 69 as the Ken Brock Memorial Highway; a portion of US Highway 81 as the Merle Miller Memorial Highway; and a portion of US Highway 281 as the First Responders Memorial Highway.

The post Kelly signs bill lifting state investment in Kansas’ network of airports to $15 million annually appeared first on Kansas Reflector.

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