Kansas Legislative Recap 2024 - Efforts to Fight Commission Attacks

The policy team at Kansas BHA rode a veritable roller coaster of legislation in the 2023-2024 session aimed at abolishing or drastically modifying the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission, the regulatory body of the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks.

The impetus for making these changes is widely attributed to the commission holding a listening session regarding banning baiting for deer to combat disease transmission. Some Kansas legislators disliked that conversation and publicly threated to defund the department.  Fast forward to the 2023-2024 legislative session and those same legislators sponsored bills to abolish, politicize or otherwise change the commission. 

Throughout the session, Kansas BHA engaged with decision makers, members and the public to fight the various bad commission bills, navigating various bill number and language changes and parrying procedural moves that obscured when and what actions would take place in the legislature.

The final measure in the session on the issue, HB 2530, leaves the seven-seat Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission intact, but appointment authority for members has been changed drastically and politicized. Instead of the governor appointing all members, a system that has worked well for decades, appointment authority will be distributed among the governor (4 seats); speaker of the house (1 seat); president of the senate (1 seat); and attorney general (1 seat).

Another important change lies in the section covering who can serve on the commission.

“The appointing authorities for the members of the commission shall give consideration to the appointment of licensed hunters, fishermen and furharvesters, park users and to nonconsumptive users of wildlife and park resources. In no case shall any respective appointing authority appoint a controlled shooting area licensee or any employee of such licensee or any person who provides hunting outfitting services or hunting guide services.”

HB2530 was approved by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor Laura Kelly on May 10, 2024.

About Kansas BHA

Kansas BHA members value the freedom to hunt, fish, watch birds, trap, hike, camp, and engage in other outdoor pursuits. Our mission is to protect and preserve the few public lands and waters we have within our borders and open access to new public lands.

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