AG Derek Schmidt backs disaster-relief legislation for wildfire damage

PARADISE, Kan. – (December 23, 2021) – When it reconvenes early next month, the Legislature should make a priority to enact tax relief for fencing and other supplies needed to rebuild farms and ranches damaged or destroyed by western Kansas wildfires last week, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today. 

Schmidt yesterday visited fire damaged areas in northwest Russell County, meeting with emergency responders, affected farmers and ranchers, and community members who are working to support the response. 

“The devastation is widespread and shocking,” Schmidt said, noting that the fires also caused severe damage in other area counties. “Livestock was devastated, homes destroyed, property damaged, lives lost. It is encouraging in this Christmas season to see neighbors coming together to support each other as the recovery continues and the rebuilding begins, and many other Kansans who live far from the affected areas are stepping forward to care for displaced livestock, provide hay and feed, contribute money and needed goods, or otherwise provide assistance. This is going to be a long and difficult rebuilding process and we all need to keep the affected Kansans in our thoughts and prayers not only today but through this winter and in the months ahead.” 

Schmidt visited the area with State Senator Elaine Bowers (R-Concordia) and State Representative Troy Waymaster (R-Bunker Hill). The legislators briefed the attorney general on their plan to propose legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January to provide sales tax relief for the purchase of fencing supplies and other rebuilding materials. Similar relief has been enacted previously for other major prairie fire damage, but that prior legislation was limited to only those previous disasters. Schmidt said he supports quick enactment of emergency-response legislation that would help rebuild after the current fires and also would be available in response to future fires without requiring a new enactment of the Legislature after each fire disaster.

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