Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt stopped by The Telegram Tuesday morning to talk about issues that have been on his radar, before heading to the Grant County Home Products Dinner in Ulysses as part of a swing through southwest Kansas.
Schmidt talked about the Legislature’s decision to allow local judges to select chief judges for their courthouse rather than allowing the Kansas Supreme Court to make those decisions. He said there are two issues pending right now — whether the Legislature has the right to make the change and the method used to do it.
Schmidt doubts that a ruling last week by a Kansas judge that put the courts on a collision course with the state legislature will result in a shutdown of courthouses statewide.
The confrontation stems from legislation in June that said if a Kansas court were to strike down a 2014 law concerning the selection of chief judges, funding for the courts would be declared null and void.
Schmidt doubts that will actually happen.
“It may not be blocked,” he said. “I am committed to doing all I can so it doesn’t happen.”
Another matter Schmidt is keeping an eye on is the Waters of the U.S, also known as the Clean Water Rule, in which Kansas and other states are challenging the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Schmidt wants the EPA to withdraw the final regulation of the rule.
The regulation would extend the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory authority to small waterways, ditches and ponds on Kansas farms, ranches and land developments.
Schmidt said the new rule could have significant consequences for Kansas residents, including farmers, forcing them to navigate a complex federal bureaucracy and obtain costly permits to perform everyday tasks such as digging ditches, building fences or spraying fertilizers.
“We think Congress took a look at that and determined there is some stopping point to where the rain drop touches the ground,” he said.
Regulating land use is what the dispute is about, he said.
“The last thing we need is another hurdle for what they do on their own land that farmers and ranchers are already doing,” he said.
Schmidt’s southwest Kansas trip had him heading to Liberal and then the Home Products Dinner in Ulysses Tuesday night. He was scheduled to make a stop Wednesday in Dodge City to provide some training for county attorneys before heading back to Topeka.
Maresh is a reporter with the Garden City Telegram.