New State Park Created

Creation of a new state park, and permanent free hunting and fishing for disabled veterans are among legislation signed into law in Kansas this week.

According to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s Office, the governor signed seven bipartisan bills, including House Bill 2039, which establishes a new state park in Allen County – Lehigh Portland Trails – and provides disabled veterans with permanent hunting and fishing licenses for free.

“Establishing the Lehigh Portland Trails as our state’s 28th state park will bring more tourism to Allen County and provide another place for families to enjoy the outdoors,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “As a previous Executive Director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, I know firsthand how important our parks are to our communities and our economy. This bill also helps our veterans overcome financial barriers to participate in all the good our parks have to offer.”

“As a seventh-generation Allen Countian, I’m glad to see this bill recognizes the beauty, benefits, and economic opportunity that those of us from the area have always seen in the Lehigh Portland site,” said Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland. “I thank Governor Kelly and the legislature, as well as the many community members from throughout Southeast Kansas, who made this happen.”

“The Lehigh State Park is a great win for Kansans to enjoy our outdoor experiences,” said Representative Doug Blex. “Getting a nearly $2 million property donated by Iola Industries, a unique trail system already developed and paid for, plus the potential of getting a near 100 percent recreational development grant makes Lehigh a very cost-effective addition to Kansas State Park system. It only makes sense to allow such a unique property to be acquired.”

“Thanks to Thrive Allen County and the generous members at Iola Industries, tremendous value is being added to Kansas’ already world-class state parks system in the form of a beautiful lake and quality trails,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Secretary Brad Loveless. “While I know this property is going to be an instant hit with our parkgoers, I also know that our park staff’s plans for development will make it even more inviting in the very near future.”

“We’re incredibly proud to support HB2039, which designates Lehigh Portland State Park. This doesn’t happen without a groundswell of community support,” said Lisse Regehr, an Iola Industries board member and CEO of Thrive Allen County. “This opportunity opens many recreational and economic possibilities for our state and all who visit. It has been a vital part of our community and we look forward to sharing it for generations to come.”

In addition to House Bill 2039, Governor Kelly also signed the following bills:

House Bill 2196: Expands Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) membership to include Kansas police and firefighters. Under current law, only state troopers, examiners, officers of the Kansas Highway Patrol, or agents of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are included under DROP. It also authorizes the affiliation of certain employees of the Department of Wildlife and Parks into the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.

Senate Sub for HB 2058: Makes an amendment related to sports wagering provisions in tribal compacts.

House Bill 2125: Allows people or businesses that provide tattooing and body piercing services to apply for charitable event and demonstration permits; and requires the Kansas Board of Cosmetology to be in line with the Kansas Administrative Procedure Act with review under the Kansas Judicial Review Act.

Senate Sub for HB 2170: Establishes the Donor Intent Protection Act to offer recourse for a donor if their donation goes somewhere that is in conflict with a previous agreement.

Senate Bill 85: Creates a legal framework for travel insurance under the Kansas Insurance Commissioner and removes the requirement that the Kansas State Employees Health Care Commission offer the option to purchase long-term care insurance and indemnity insurance as a benefit.

Senate Bill 119: Updates language and documentation requirements in insurance-related statutes and would provide tools to help the Kansas Insurance Commissioner more easily enforce the law against bad actors.