In Hellebust v. Brownback, the Federal District Court for the District of Kansas invalidated two statutory sections that provided for the election of the State Board of Agriculture. The provisions authorized various county and statewide agricultural groups to send representatives to an annual convention at which members of the Board of Agriculture were elected. Because the Board of Agriculture exercised substantial regulatory authority over matters such as pesticides, water use and meat inspections, the district court found the Board to be a general governmental agency and held that this arrangement violated the “one person, one vote” principle of Reynolds v. Sims. Based on this conclusion, the court placed the Board’s functions in receivership and appointed the Governor (in her official capacity) as receiver pending legislative action to correct the defects in the selection process for the Board of Agriculture.
The Kansas House Agriculture Committee requested that I comment on the constitutional issues raised by this case. Because of the public interest in these matters, The University of Kansas Law Review agreed to publish the written testimony I submitted to the Committee. This testimony is reproduced below in the form it was submitted, with the inevitable addition of footnotes and technical alterations. The testimony summarizes the case law concerning the one person, one vote requirement and explains why the district court decision is likely correct in its application of the law. It also discusses some of the constitutionally permissible means of addressing the selection of the Board. The testimony is followed by a brief postscript in which I describe some of the distinct concerns that developed in the oral exchange that accompanied my presentation of this testimony to the Committee.
Levy, Richard E., Written Testimony of Richard E. Levy Before the House Agriculture Committee, State Of
Kansas (June 1, 1994). Kansas Law Review, Vol. 42, pp. 265, 1994. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1955585