KDHE Holds Harmful Algal Bloom Meeting

 

Stakeholders met to address concerns for coming season

 

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) held the 2019 Harmful Algal Bloom Meeting this week at Washburn University in Topeka. The meeting, which included all Kansas agencies which work on harmful algal blooms, discussed health, monitoring and responses due to harmful algal blooms in area water sources.

 

“At this year’s meeting we have expanded from our recreational stakeholders to include the public water supply operators and other agencies to find the best ways to address issues as they arise,” said Megan Maksimowicz, an Environmental Specialist at KDHE’s Bureau of Water. “We want to make sure that we stay on top of all public health and safety issues connected to HABs. We have not had any toxins above the EPA’s health advisory level from HABs in a public water supply system, but we continue to come up with the best ways to prevent this and to monitor these situations.”

 

Presentation topics included recreation and reservoir research, animal health, testing and monitoring, nutrient reduction and practices, in-lake mitigation strategies, public water supply monitoring, and planning and response, among other discussions. The meeting, hosted by KDHE’s Bureau of Water, has been held annually every winter to engage stakeholders on this challenging issue affecting lakes in Kansas.

 

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Meeting 2019 from KDHE on Vimeo.

Hawver: Politically Red-Hot Issue

 

Kansas Political Columnist Martin Hawver
Kansas Political Columnist Martin Hawver

Brand new Gov. Laura Kelly has gotten one of her most politically red-hot issues introduced into the Legislature, printed out, and ready for the scrap over financing K-12 public schools in Kansas.

 

Her bill, that she told (warned?) lawmakers about at her State of the State address pumps another $93 million into state aid for public schools, apparently the amount needed to get the Kansas Supreme Court grinning about adequate financing of public education.

And, now that those bills are printed up nicely, we’ll see just how long it takes either the House or the Senate to start considering them. So far, it appears that legislative leaders want to make sure that the ink is good and dry before they start handling the bills.

Key to that Kelly initiative is that about $93 million has been penciled out as the amount of new spending for schools that the Supreme Court has determined to be adequate. It has a lot to do with past years’ legislative action which didn’t significantly increase funding, which didn’t keep up with inflation. Inflation is a big deal when you’re spending more than $5 billion a year to help finance local public schools. A percent or two, and you’re talking real money.

Her bill puts in that $93 million in additional spending for schools this year, as the court wants. Don’t go reading through the bill for a $93 million-line item. It’s fairly obscure and deals with increasing the base state aid per pupil, and this year, as the court wants.

Now, the governor thinks paying the money, essentially settling more than two decades of school finance lawsuits, is smart. And it meshes with her aim to increase school funding.

The Legislature’s Republican leadership generally takes three tracks. One is that it’s the Legislature that decides how much money to spend, not the court; another is that legislators are spending a lot of their constituents’ money on schools now, and the third is, of course, that lawmakers have other places to spend the money.

Oh, and while it’s early in the session, Attorney General Derek Schmidt would like the Legislature to act quickly on the bill, because he’s got an April 25 date to show the Supreme Court that the state has remedied the shortcomings of the school finance issue, and a May 9 date for oral arguments before the court to deliver the answer.

And time in the generally slow legislative process is important to Schmidt.

If he shows up with a new law that ponies up the money, that makes things easier.  He could almost just ask for a receipt from the court and have time for a nice lunch on May 9. Maybe something that goes with wine…

Or, the Legislature could dunk Kelly’s bill, just not passing it, cutting the amount of the new spending, or coming up with some new idea that lawmakers hope the court will buy.

That is also something that Schmidt would like to know as quickly as possible.

Because he represents the state, not just the Legislature, he’s going to have to figure out how to explain what the Legislature did, why it did it, and why it will adequately finance schools. Oh, and there’s always the chance the Legislature will come up with a plan that the governor vetoes. That makes the water a little deeper…

So, while we’re watching taxes and voting rights and possibly expansion of Medicaid and all the other partisan scraps, you might want to spend a little time wondering about schools. You won’t be alone…

by Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Boil Water Advisory Issued for City of Paola, Miami Co.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has issued a boil water advisory for the City of Paola located in Miami County.

Customers should observe the following precautions until further notice:

  • If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears.
  • Boil water for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation or use bottled water.
  • Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker.
  • Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
  • Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing so that water is not ingested. Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians.

The advisory took effect on January 27, 2019, and will remain in effect until the conditions that placed the system at risk of bacterial contamination are resolved. KDHE officials issued the advisory because of a line break resulting in a loss of pressure in the system.  Failure to maintain adequate pressure may result in a loss of chlorine residuals and bacterial contamination

Regardless of whether the public water supplier or KDHE announced a boil water advisory, only KDHE can issue the rescind order following testing at a certified laboratory.

 

If you have questions, please contact the water system or you may call KDHE at 785-296-5795. For consumer information please visit KDHE’s PWS Consumer Information webpage: http://www.kdheks.gov/pws/emergencyresponse/water_disruption.htm

 

Restaurants and other food establishments that have questions about the impact of the boil water advisory on their business can contact the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s food safety & lodging program at  kda.fsl@ks.gov or call 785-564-6767.

 

Opinion: What is a Market-Based Approach to Water Quality?

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a joint letter encouraging market-based, collaborative approaches to reduce excess nutrients in waterways. But, few other details were offered on how to best take this approach.

There are three possible market-based strategies for water quality improvement: nutrient reduction exchange, wetland mitigation banking, and environmental impact bonds.

Comparable to a cap and trade program, the nutrient reduction exchange ties downstream municipalities to upstream partners through voluntary efforts. This approach focuses on reducing nitrogen and phosphorus by leveraging cost-effective projects that would be more affordable than removing nutrients at a water treatment plant. This strategy has been tried in the Ohio River Basin.

With wetland mitigation banking, flood risks can be minimized by holding and slowing the flow of water—also allowing nutrients and sediment to filter out. In addition, wetlands can provide a natural habitat for birds and waterfowl. The idea behind this approach is to encourage new investments in water quality and flood mitigation by restoring wetlands.

Environmental impact bonds have been used recently by major cities to finance infrastructure projects to improve water quality, particularly from stormwater runoff. Washington, D.C. first used this tool in 2016, followed by Baltimore and Atlanta. What makes environmental impact bonds different from other green bonds is that they use a “pay for success” model focused on achieving environmental outcomes, which requires them to have a measuring and monitoring component for investors.

Any of these three market-based strategies could play a key role in building a cleaner, healthier, and more productive future. Learn more at cfra.org.

By Katie Rock, katier@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs

Governor Laura Kelly: A Commonsense First Step for Kansas

After years of financial crisis, budget catastrophes and devastating cuts to Kansas’ most prized investments, last week I put forth a balanced, commonsense budget that is a first step on Kansas’ road to recovery.  

Governor Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly was sworn in during the Kansas Governor Inauguration ceremony this past week. Kansas Governor Kelly took office on Jan. 15, 2018, with a ceremony that was held on the steps of the capitol building in Topeka, Kansas.

This budget leaves us with the largest ending balance in 20 years and pays down the historic level of debt incurred in the past eight years. I’m also proud to say we did it all without a tax increase.  

Budgets reflect our priorities, and my number one priority will always be education. That’s why this budget restores funding to our public schools that were slashed in recent years – ensuring that we meet the needs of our students and teachers once and for all.  

 We Must Make Commonsense Changes

The days of doing the bare minimum to fund our schools are over. This year, we can end the cycle of litigation so our schools can focus on what they are designed to do: educate our students and prepare them for the future.  

This budget also paves the way for Medicaid expansion so we can provide high-quality, affordable healthcare to 150,000 more Kansans, and critical support to our hospitals and clinics, especially in rural Kansas.  

 

We also made investments in other crucial areas. We recommend adding 55 new child welfare workers to protect our most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect, reinvesting in roads and bridges and reducing transfers from the highway fund, and increasing funding for public safety to better aide Kansas communities.  

 

In addition, over the past few years, the state skipped and reduced payments to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement Fund (KPERS) to fund budget holes caused by the Brownback tax plan. These irresponsible changes have caused the state’s payments to skyrocket. My budget recommends a re-amortization – or basically a refinancing – of KPERS so that we can make our payments more sustainable over time. To be clear, no retiree benefits, current or future, will be negatively impacted by this plan. In fact, this will put Kansas in a better position to protect retiree benefits in the years to come.  

 

Of course this budget doesn’t fix all the problems created over the last eight years, nor does it fulfill all of my administration’s goals. But it is an important first step that will set the stage for a brighter, more prosperous future for our state.  

 

If we move forward with caution, and continue to focus on our shared priorities, we can make sure that Kansas succeeds for years to come.  

by Governor Laura Kelly

Hawver: Sounds Good

By Martin Hawver

Ever look at one of those new computer programs that sounds good? Like the ones to let you know whether the dog has jumped the fence? Or whether the cat is comfortable? Who doesn’t want that?

Well, after you hit the button and enter your credit card number, you get the chance to read a dozen pages of small type that are “terms and conditions.”

The Legislature doesn’t generally quickly hit the “agree” button, and this year, more than many years, there is a chance lawmakers aren’t going to hit that button on the governor’s budget.

Yes, the governor’s State of the State address sounded pretty good. More money for schools to finally get the state out of the lawsuit asserting that it isn’t “adequately” funding public schools, to protect the safety and security of children, and to swipe less money from the Kansas Department of Transportation so it can get back to building or at least improving the safety of roads and bridges.

That’s the program most of us want on our phones and computers, and generally in Kansas.

Those “terms and conditions” to get that program were explained in the budget that Gov. Laura Kelly presented on Thursday, and there are fingers on the “do not accept” button.

Key, of course, is her proposal to refinance the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), which those fun-loving actuaries say is “actuarially underfunded” by essentially stretching by 30 years the payments to make it “actuarially funded.”

That stretching of the state’s payments, as one does with a mortgage or car loan, will solve the problem, but at an interest cost that is large. That interest cost upsets conservatives, but the state doesn’t have the money to pay cash and stretching the payments by re-amortizing the fund eventually gets it to the place actuaries say it should be.

That refinancing of KPERS? It frees up millions of dollars now that can be used to settle the K-12 school finance problem that the Kansas Supreme Court seems very serious about and may reduce by about $100 million the money that is swept from the Kansas Department of Transportation budget so it can improve our transportation system.

Oh, and it also frees up money for Kelly’s insistence (that got her elected governor rather than conservative Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach?) that the state expand Medicaid (KanCare) health services to about 150,000 more poor Kansans and their children.

Republicans, who by numbers control the Legislature, don’t want that. They say it will cost the state too much money and it is a child of the “ObamaCare” Affordable Care Act that they oppose.

But, looking at Kelly’s one-year budget (rather than two-year, or biennial, budget that was thought up by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback), it’s the KPERS refinancing that makes it work.

So, we’ll get conservatives who don’t want to refinance KPERS working to rile the 100,000 KPERS pension recipients and the 152,000 Kansans who are paying into the system to battle the governor and her supporters.

And, we’ll see whether parents of schoolchildren who want schools to stay open side with the governor since the KPERS savings will be used to meet Supreme Court orders on school finance. We’ll also maybe see roadbuilders who get more work by cutting the swiping of highway money decide that 30 years is about right for KPERS financing.

This might be interesting this year. Now, where’s the dog, and is the cat happy?

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Kansas Governor Inauguration

Laura Kelly was sworn in during the Kansas Governor Inauguration ceremony this past week. Kansas Governor Kelly took office on Jan. 15, 2018, with a ceremony that was held on the steps of the capitol building in Topeka, Kansas.

 

TOPEKA, KS, UNITED STATES
Video by Staff Sgt. Mark Nussbaumer
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Schmidt Taps Former Pratt County Sheriff for Cattle Theft Investigations Unit

TOPEKA –– Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced that he has chosen former Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn to join his office’s Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit.

 

“Vernon has an incredible resume that spans more than two decades in Kansas law enforcement, and I’m delighted he has agreed to continue his contributions to public safety by joining our team,” Schmidt said. “His knowledge and experience will be a strong addition to the attorney general’s office as we continue investigating and prosecuting cases of cattle theft across Kansas.”

 

Chinn is a U.S. Army veteran who served a one year combat tour in Vietnam from 1969-1970. After serving nine years as a patrol deputy in the Pratt County Sheriff’s Office, he was elected Pratt County Sheriff in 2000. As sheriff, Chinn was involved in many critical incidents, including serving as the director of all law enforcement operations for a month following the devastating EF-5 tornado that hit Greensburg in 2007. His fellow sheriffs recognized his leadership in that role by naming him Sheriff of the Year. Chinn was later elected president of the Kansas Sheriff’s Association in 2010 and served on the executive board from 2006 to 2012. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, class #236.

 

Schmidt formed the Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit in 2014 in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. It helps local law enforcement investigate cattle theft and related crimes. Chinn began his position as a special agent in the unit on January 10.

These 3 Small Cap CBD Stocks Could Benefit with Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill

These three small cap CBD stocks could benefit nicely with the Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. It should lead to a Flurry of M&A Activity in the #CBD Sector including this recent development, Canopy Growth Corp. CGC said Monday it has been granted a license to process and produce hemp in New York state. The company said it is planning to invest $100 million to $150 million in a New York base, capable of producing tons of hemp extract.

Established Players such as: American Premium Water, Corp. (OTC: HIPH); EnviroTechnologies International, Inc. (OTC: ETII and Medifirst Solutions (OTC: MFST)

American Premium Water, Corp.

American Premium Water, Corp. (OTC: HIPH) the marketer and distributor of the first hydro-nano #CBD infused beverage on the market, is another company in the CBD space that has been linked to a larger, established beverage company. It was reported that American Premium Water’s (OTC:HIPH) CEO had met with National Beverage Corporation (OTC:FIZZ), the manufacturer and distributer of various beverage brands, including the premium carbonated brand LaCroix, to discuss a potential partnership or minority investment. This would make a lot of sense for National Beverage, whom has also been besieged by its own scandal involving arsenic with its signature brand LaCroix. American Premium Water HIPH announced that it acquired proprietary #CBD hydro-nano formulations, which National Beverage could utilize for its line of beverages, including LaCroix. An entry into the burgeoning #CBD space for HIPH would re-invigorate the company, and they would be able to scale very quickly their wide distribution network a #CBD infused beverage where there is a lot of thirst for product. Breaking news on HIPH: American Premium Water Corp. announces Financing Arrangement at a .40 Valuation. HIPH is currently trading at .08

EnviroTechnologies International, Inc.

EnviroTechnologies International, Inc. (OTC: ETII) is in a good position to take advantage of the burgeoning Hemp/CBD Pet industry. ETII’s products are poised for greater distribution now that the Farm Bill has passed. ETII also markets and sells green, environmentally safe products and solutions to the Oil and Gas and the Food and Agriculture industries as well as consumer products, using the Company’s unique technologies, which include proprietary machines that create electrolyzed oxidative water. #CBD Health Co. launched a sister fitness and media company that will market fitness hemp-based products and health films, Phytolife Fitness and Media will release weekly videos on CBD health, meal preparation, and normal incorporation of our products into their diets, daily regimen and lifestyle. ETII also develops and markets proprietary, synergistic products for the oil and gas and agriculture industries as well as wellness products. The company’s products are safe, natural, and non-toxic and “green” products for industries that often show little concern for the environment but are now feeling the social and governmental need to go “green.” The company’s completely green and natural products are proprietary, unique and highly effective innovations to its target markets including #CBD. OTC:ETII has been climbing up the charts recently. Please visit: www.cbdhealthstock.com for more information on ETII

Medifirst Solutions

Medifirst Solutions (OTC: MFST) is an enticing Small Cap company with 3 amazing businesses: the new CBD business, FDA approved Laser and specialty pharmacy drugs. MFST has a Very low Stock structure. Medifirst MFST has completed an agreement with Dr. Gupta Pharma LLC to distribute a line of premium CBD oils. As the President of the American Pain Association, Dr. Gupta believes that #CBD, used under the guidance of a physician, can play a significant role in reducing pain and helping to curb the opioid epidemic. Medifirst Solutions (OTC: MFST) established in 2011, has an FDA cleared revolutionary and innovative laser technology and in a recently announced new division, offers specialty pharmacy drug and consulting services. MFST just announced huge news. Concierge Concepts Rx (CCRx), a division of Medifirst Solutions, has signed an exclusive three-year Specialty Pharmacy Consulting Agreement with a New Jersey based, billion-dollar company that owns 153 convenience stores including pharmacy services. They have 4000 employees in New Jersey and New York locations. There is no hotter sector in the pharmaceutical industry than specially drugs. Industry analysts project the total pharmaceutical industry to exceed $483 billion in 2020. Please visit: www.cbdpubco.com for more information on MFST

 

 

 

 

At the Rail – Martin Hawver

By Martin Hawver

By this time the new legislators have adjusted their chairs on the House and Senate floors and are

Martin Hawver, Columnist
Martin Hawver

presumably ready for business.

Which means, well, we’ll see when business starts. Could be a couple weeks, by which time lawmakers have met each other, learned about their families and pets, or whether the dramatically fast—Thursday—release of Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget for the upcoming year or two lights the fuse.

The weeks since Kelly has been governor-elect have yielded what most would consider relatively pro forma assertions that Kelly is going to “repair” the policies of the past eight years led by Gov. Sam Brownback and then Gov. Jeff Colyer. And mostly conservative Republican leadership responses have been that nearly everything Kelly wants to do costs money and threatens the budget—and possibilities of tax cuts.

***

Luckily for the governor and Legislature, there appears to be no dramatic catastrophe that requires first-week action by the state government, no bridge collapse, no wildfire, no flooding.  But the less-headlined issues ranging from care for children to school funding and health care for the poor are looming and will require administration/legislative action this session. Defining the problems will be the key to solutions, and those definitions and their costs are going to be the major issues for the session.

By week’s end, the dissection of Kelly’s budget will have started in both chambers, with her new Cabinet expected to have its input and changes to recommend. And, some issues, such as care for jeopardized children, don’t appear to have simple solutions because of the complexity of the agencies designed to protect them.

***

Much of what happens in this first dance will be under-the-covers, not generally reported and practically more complicated than most Kansans who have jobs to perform and families and children to provide for will notice. But those complex internal issues will impact just how the state provides for us.

For example, the House will this week adopt rules for the upcoming two years.

Rules? That’s a big deal? Sure, there’s no smoking or drinking in the House chamber, and you must be polite and not interfere with democracy. Behave.

But there are provisions—like whether sponsors of bills have to be named, or whether bills can be introduced by a committee, or whether committees will keep track of votes on amendments and such—that aren’t in writing and may or may not be.

Then there’s the big rule dealing with bills that make appropriations, and how they can be amended during floor debate. Now, if a House member wants to spend more money on something than the House Appropriations Committee approved, that member must propose cuts somewhere in the bill to keep its price tag at committee-approved levels…if the state’s general fund ending balance for the year is less than 7.5%.

We’ll see how that works out, and while it is not likely to spark dinner-table discussions in most homes in Kansas—we hope—it is a major decision that will influence deciding how to spend your tax money, and on what.

***

So, we probably have a couple or three weeks of debate ahead, generally not committed to legislation, about just where the state is going to head for the first year or two of the Kelly/Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers administration, and just how cooperative or combative the Legislature is going to be.

A couple House floor votes on Kelly-sought bills and we will have an idea about how state government is going to work for us.

Because, recall, state government works for us…

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com