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Midsession Forum: Western Kansas delegates talk elections, mortgages fees and EPA regulations


Representatives Bud Estes and John Ewy, as well as Senator Garrett Love were in Dodge City, Kansas, recently for an open forum.  The delegates shared their position on elections, mortgage fees, and EPA regulations according to a recent article from the Dodge City Daily Globe.

Here’s a summary:

Changing the municipal election calendar  Two bills address this issue.  The House bill would set municipal elections to November in odd-numbered years.  The Senate bill would tie elections to the federal calendar, and require all races to be partisan.

  • Rep. Bud Estes:  Said the idea stemmed from the eastern part of the state, and that west Kansans did not want the re-arranged voting calendar or make races partisan, a part of SB 211.
  • Rep. John Ewy:  Has heard "overwhelmingly" that city and school districts were against changing their election calendars to the fall.  "Until I hear something better, that's where I'm at," Ewy said.
  • Sen. Garrett Love: Said there are two clear side, and he can see them both.  The low rate of voter participation in municipal elections needs to be taken seriously, Love said, but “On the other side, there’s be a lot of elections on the ballot.”  He went on to say that he’s still trying to “figure it out and put the pieces together.”

Repealing the mortgage registration fee  A Senate bill to repeal the mortgage registration fee, which is a tax paid primarily to counties when a mortgage is used to purchase property.  A revised version of the bill, SB298 has passed a committee vote, replacing the mortgage registration fee with a transfer fee.  The new fee would be used to fund the Heritage Trust Fund.

  • Rep. Bud Estes:  Said a transfer fee would also be fair to existing homeowners who have already paid the fee compared to a straight repeal, “And it won’t take a bit out of anyone.”
  • Sen. Garrett Love:  Said the original version of the bill “would have been a big burden to put on the counties and I didn’t want to do that.”  He went on to say a transfer fee will be more consistent, expand the tax base, and allow for a lower fee.

The EPA’s proposed new rules on carbon emission  The legislators would not say whether or not they would vote to join a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government and the EPA's proposed new rules on carbon emissions.  All three said they would have to read the language of the suit before deciding.  All three said they oppose stiffer regulations of emissions.

  • Rep. Bud Estes:  Said he believes in the effects of climate change, “but not to the point some people do.”  He went on to say the U.S. has been making strides in cleaner energy.  China, though, has not, he added.  
  • Rep. John Ewy:  "I know you have to protect the climate for years to come," Ewy said. "There's a lot of concern for it, but we have to survive, first." He said he is worried what stricter regulations could do to the cost of energy.
  • Sen. Garrett Love:  Said the costs and benefits need to be weighed against not building new "clean coal" power plants, but regarding the most recent EPA proposal, he is against it.

This was the second of three planned opened forums during the legislative session.