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On Thursday, May 21st, the Kansas legislature returned for one final day of business in 2020. Through 24 straight hours of debate and deliberation, conference committees met and assembled multiple bill packages. The Legislature was initially scheduled to return for a full veto session in April. That date was postponed, however, in response to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the truncated timeframe with which the legislature had to conduct its final business, Leadership limited action to only those bills which were arguably related to the pandemic. The weighty issue of...

Governor Laura Kelly's Executive Order 20-33, maintaining the 10 percent weight waiver up to 90,000 lbs for trucks hauling essential goods and supplies expires on June 14, 2020. For our members’ clarification of the Executive Order, we requested clarification from the Kansas Highway Patrol if the waiver applies to the following: transport of agricultural crop inputs (seed/pesticide/fertilizer/diesel) from import/manufacturer to the end user/farmer transport of grain from farm to elevator transport of grain from commercial elevator to end user (i.e., feed yards, feed mills, biofuel plants, export market, etc.) transport of...

The Kansas legislature will return for one final day of business on Thursday, May 21st. Multiple committee met this week to consider various bills – all of which will all compete for limited action next Thursday. Large items, such as Medicaid expansion, might still be open for discussion, as will certain tax bills and COVID-related items. The Legislature was initially scheduled to return a few weeks ago in April for a full veto session. That date was postponed, however, in response to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to adjourning in...

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a final rule modernizing hours of service (HOS) rules to improve safety and flexibility for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and the American public. The final rule brings a key reform to the short-haul exemption by extending it to 150 air miles and increasing the maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours. ARA sent comments to FMCSA on Oct. 21, 2019, requesting regulatory reform to HOS rules including an expansion of the short-haul exception and maximum on-duty period. Read...

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched an online portal to begin accepting applications for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants. USDA plans to make available up to $100 million in competitive grants for activities designed to expand the sale and availability of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. “As the coronavirus response continues, America’s energy independence has proven critical to our economic security now more than ever,” Deputy Secretary Censky said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, we know the positive impacts that affordable,...

This afternoon, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-31, which establishes a new phase to the “Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas.” The new “1.5” Phase, effective May 18, 2020, continues reopening efforts while preserving some data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. “The good news is that hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths continue to decline, enabling us to move forward with our efforts to safely reopen Kansas,” said Kelly. “Unfortunately, the daily rate of disease spread has not shown the downward trajectory necessary to move fully into Phase...

Renew Kansas Biofuels Association sent a letter to the Kansas Congressional delegation urging their support of biofuels relief funding outlined in the House of Representatives recently-introduced Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. The letter, sent to Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran and Representatives Sharice Davids, Ron Estes, Dr. Roger Marshall and Steve Watkins, called the delegations’ attention to the more than $2.25 billion set aside for biofuels relief amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. “In Kansas, we currently have two ethanol plants who were forced to shut down...

Featuring Eric J. Conn, OSHA Practice Group Chair at Conn Maciel Carey, this webinar will break down the workplace safety implications of OSHA’s recently issued “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” which defines risk categories and provides recommendations on how to protect employees. Topics include: OSHA, CDC, and other guidance for managing infection control in the workplace generally Regulatory issues and best practices associated with voluntary and mandatory use of respirators or other face coverings Illness recording/reporting issues How to respond to employee or OSHA complaints. OSHA’s definition of “workplace” covers everything...

On May 6, the Legislative Coordinating Council voted to reconvene the Kansas Legislature on Thursday, May 21st at a time to be determined. May 21st was the pre-scheduled date for sine die adjournment – the final day of the 2020 legislative session. While the full legislature will not meet until May 21st, House and Senate leadership may yet approve meetings by certain committees (budget, tax, etc.) for consideration of bills. A motion by Senate leadership to return a few days before the 21st to conduct additional business fell by a vote...

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing...

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