Lawmakers hear from industry leaders on how to help create economic comeback in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansans are out of work and businesses are struggling, so industry leaders are looking to the government for assistance.

Lawmakers are meeting with many industries, from health care to real estate, to restaurants and utilities. Coronaviurus is impacting everything.

“Kansas oil and gas industry has not been spared by the coronavirus,” Ed Cross said.

Cross serves as the president of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. He spoke to legislators of the Special Committee on Economic Recovery on Thursday.

He said thousands of oil and gas workers in the state have been impacted during the pandemic. That’s because less barrels of oil are being produced, and the money being made isn’t there like it used to be.

“Price of oil is a very, very volatile thing and when the price of oil is down, and we went all the way down to as low as 25 cents a barrel here in Kansas at one point here in April, you can’t make your business go when your revenue is down that low,” Cross said.

“Whenever they shut those wells down, oil and gas industry wants to try and keep the good employees, so there’s a lot of furloughs, but they’re still layoffs and there’s wage reductions,” Cross said.

So lawmakers are taking this time to ask people in affected industries what can be done to help out.

“Our people and our businesses are expecting us to move forward in a time frame that is not even further destructive to their personal lives, to their family lives, and to their businesses,” Olathe Senator Julia Lynn said.

Lynn serves as the chair of the special committee. She said now is the time to figure out solutions even if the legislature doesn’t return until January.

“We need to be recovering now, because we can’t go back to where we were at the beginning of this pandemic,” Lynn said.

Another aspect of the economy that was represented at the committee was the livestock industry.

Meat processing plants have been hit hard during the pandemic. Officials said the industry is starting to recover, and that after months of losses farmers are hoping that is in the past.

“We’re still working through that backlog of cattle, and so we’re hoping that we can avoid any major shutdowns going into the fall and winter months, and keep these plants rolling,” said Aaron Popelka, president of legal and governmental affairs at the Kansas Livestock Association. “Another major outbreak could have some serious repercussions.”

Speakers talked about keeping taxes and fees low, the importance of financial assistance and officials being transparent about what restrictions are in place.

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