By MIKE CORN
TOPEKA -- When Robin Jennison walks around the corner to the Statehouse to push for legislation sought by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, he'll find several familiar faces in House and Senate natural resource committees.
On the House side, Larry Powell, Garden City, heads up the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. He will be joined by Plainville Republican Dan Collins.
It's over on the Senate side where the newest changes have been made in the Natural Resources Committee, with the appointment of Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, as the chairman. Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, is the ranking Democrat.
"I'm really pleased with this appointment," Ostmeyer said of being named to head up the committee.
Issues to come before the natural resource committees, he said, "affect so many things out in western Kansas."
There's the obvious issues, such as wildlife and hunting and fishing. But those committees also will deal with issues affecting water -- the lifeblood of the economy in western Kansas.
But it could be a relatively slow year for the committees, considering there isn't any money to deal with anything extra.
Ostmeyer said he thinks there will be an effort to review the state's 110-year-old law giving townships the authority to go on private land to kill prairie dogs when landowners are willing to do it.
That's a law that's been at the heart of the controversy surrounding prairie dogs -- and the reintroduction of black-footed ferrets -- in southwest Logan County.
He's just as confident there will be a push to rewrite the use-it-or-lose-it provision in the Kansas Water Act to include conservation as a way to keep from losing water rights.
The same goes for efforts to take water rights out of production in areas overappropriated.
"But there's no money," he said.
That's the problem.
"I'm sure we'll get word that if there's a fiscal note on it, there's no money so don't work it," he said.
That would mean legislation that carries a price tag will simply be allowed to die.
"We're not going to put a bill up if we don't have any money," he said.