From our government relations manager
Highlights from the 2023 Kansas Legislative Session
Across Kansas and in the statehouse, water conservation was a pressing matter. Legislators took urgent action to increase funding to the state water plan by $35 million. The Nature Conservancy supported this legislation and worked with lawmakers to ensure nature-based solutions and non-profit collaboration would be a priority for this new funding.
Other legislative highlights include:
- Reforms to Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) to require annual written reports and develop action plans in priority areas of concern.
- A new state park near Iola! Lehigh Portland State Park is 100+ acres of rugged woodlands, lively prairie, and scenic views of the lovely spring-fed quarry lake. Trails feature more than 14 miles of rail-trail-style gravel-surfaced trails and natural-surface singletrack trails.
- House Bill 2320, enacting Commercial Property-Assessed Capital Enhancement (C-PACE) financing in Kansas, was introduced on behalf of The Nature Conservancy. It was referred to the Committee on Financial Institutions and Pensions, which plans to pursue it further in 2024
Though Kansas's 2023 legislative session has adjourned, The Nature Conservancy continues to engage with state lawmakers so they can make informed decisions in 2024.
Justin Cobb (email Justin)
Government Relations Manager, Kansas
Statewide Conservation Funding
The Nature Conservancy is a founding member of Kansans for Conservation, a coalition of organizations and individuals working together to provide a much-needed permanent and protected funding source for conserving and enhancing water quality and natural areas in this state, including parks, trails, fish and wildlife habitat, and agricultural soils.
Thanks in part to the coalition's efforts, the Kansas legislature increased funding of the state water plan by $35 million in 2023. The Nature Conservancy worked with lawmakers to ensure that natural water infrastructure projects would be eligible for this funding. We will continue to work toward a new and dedicated statewide source of funding that provides consistent and sufficient funding for conservation.
Renewable Energy Siting
Did you know Kansas ranks 4th in the nation for wind capacity and is in the top ten states for days of sunshine? The ample wind and solar resources here and throughout the central U.S. offer the opportunity to rapidly expand renewable energy—which is necessary to meet our climate goals. However, it's important to ensure that renewable energy installations are properly sited to avoid known threats to wildlife and natural habits. That's why TNC created the Site Renewables Right mapping tool to identify where in the central U.S. renewable energy can be developed while still conserving important wildlife habitats and natural areas. It’s a win-win. TNC will continue to provide resources so developers, utilities and municipalities can make science-based siting decisions.
TNC’s conservation-informed tools, including Site Renewables Right and Power of Place, help renewable energy developers select sites for utility-scale wind and solar installations that avoid detrimental impacts to nature and communities.
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Commercial Property-Assessed Capital Enhancements
Commercial, property-assessed capital enhancement programs, known as C-PACE, provide a solution to keep Kansas on the cutting edge of technological advancements with no extra burden at any level of government. Projects eligible for C-PACE loans—like sustainable agriculture, high-efficiency infrastructure, and water conservation—provide long-term benefits to all Kansans. The loan payments are treated as a property-tax assessment leading to favorable lending options like 100% financing and extended repayment terms. Kansas needs to pass C-PACE legislation in 2024.
Federal Policy That Supports Kansas
The Farm Bill is the nation's largest investment supporting the voluntary and successful conservation, restoration and management of America's private lands. Kansas is a leader in agricultural production and the Farm Bill is significant for many Kansans—from producers needing crop insurance to ranchers stewarding the last of the tallgrass prairie. Farm Bill programs provide incentives for regenerative agricultural practices and conserving native grasslands and other habitats. As Congress drafts the 2023 Farm Bill, TNC reminds them that there is no more important investment than our natural heritage.