Why It Matters: As the Kansas State Legislature adjourned for an extended break prior to returning for the state’s Veto Session, legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate passed two bills of interest that will be moving to the Governor’s desk for consideration. Pertaining to no-cost licenses for disabled veterans and firearm safety and hunter education in schools, CSF is monitoring each of these bills as they continue to the final step of the legislative process.
- Kansas House Bill 2039 is a well-intended bill that exempts disabled veterans from certain fees regarding hunting and fishing licenses. As the bill currently stands, it does not include language to reimburse the Department of Wildlife and Parks for the lost license revenue, but opportunities to add reimbursement language through passing additional legislation in the future remain open.
- Kansas House Bill 2304 is a bill that provides school districts with the opportunity to offer a standardized firearms safety program as a part of their curriculum. Should schools elect to offer this programming their students will be educated on responsible and safe firearm handling Which could serve as a steppingstone to recruiting the next generation of hunters and recreational shooters.
- The Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation (CSF) actively engaged on both bills throughout the legislative process, by working alongside caucus leaders and providing formal testimony on both bills.
On April 6, the Kansas State Legislature adjourned for an extended recess ahead of the state’s Veto Session. Prior to this break, legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate sent two bills of particular importance to the Governor’s desk for this consideration. Legislators are expected to reconvene on April 24 to consider any final business before adjourning for the year.
Among the bills passed this session was KS HB 2039, a bill previously reported on by CSF. As passed, HB 2039 will require the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) to issue, free of charge, a permanent license to hunt and fish to disabled veterans. Though CSF’s recommended language, which was designed to reimburse KDWP for the cost of these licenses from the state’s general fund was not included, the final version of HB 2039 leaves an opportunity for additional legislation for reimbursement to be passed in the future, designed to safeguard the American System of Conservation Funding.
Also passed during the 2023 legislative session was HB 2304 which provides school districts with the opportunity to offer a standardized firearms safety program as a part of their curriculum. As reported earlier in the year, it is important to acknowledge that his bill only establishes guidelines for a standardized program and does not require that the programs are taught. In March, CSF submitted testimony to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs in support of HB 2304. In this testimony, CSF outlined the importance of introducing students to responsible firearm handling in a safe and controlled classroom setting, and, through KDWP’s hunter education course, potentially recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women. It is also important to note that firearm safety is one of several important sportsman and conservation topics discussed in Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks curriculum.
On April 14, HB 2304 was vetoed by the Governor, but CSF plans to work with the Kansas Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus and in-state partners to consider an override of this veto.