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In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the old Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island with a facility on the U.S. mainland to study Foot and Mouth Disease and other dangerous pathogens. Kansas won the job in 2008, with a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan.But today, more than three years later, the proposed $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility faces funding obstacles, safety questions, rising costs and political fallout. For Kansas and the Midwest, the stakes couldn’t be higher.Here you’ll find coverage and updates from Harvest Public Media, KCUR and Kansas Public Media.

Kansas Legislature Strips KBA Of Bonding For NBAF

New Kansas Bioscience Authority under construction in Olathe. Photo courtesy of KBA

The Kansas House voted unanimously last night to strip the troubled Kansas Bioscience Authority of bonding authority for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, or NBAF.

The vote gives the state Department of Administration charge over issuing $150 million dollars in bonds.

In a separate move, a provision added to a Senate bill requires the State Finance Department to approve any NBAF bonds.

Both pieces of legislation give Governor Sam Brownback and his administration closer oversight of funding for the $650 million dollar NBAF facility.

The Governor and some legislators have said questions of impropriety surrounding the KBA could inhibit federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security facility, which is yet to be approved. Recent hearings by theKansas House Commerce Committee raised questions about the KBA budget. Line items included thousands of dollars for lobbying for NBAF, both in Washington, D.C. and Kansas.

The Johnson County District Attorney's office also is conducting a criminal investigation into the KBA. No details about that investigation have been disclosed.

The KBA is doing its own internal audit. Legislative leaders are not happy with the KBA investigating itself, and have asked to be involved in the audit. KBA interim CEO David Vranicar has said a professional, outside firm is conducting the audit and that the legislature has been invited to ask anything of auditors at any time. The KBA has said, however, the threat of revealing trade secrets and the proprietary rights of clients prohibit outsiders from participating directly in the audit. Vranicar also has said the KBA does not mind giving up control of the bonding process.

Meanwhile, a cattle and rancher's group out of Montana has called on the Department of Homeland Security and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Homeland Security to cancel funding for NBAF until questions about the KBA are cleared up.

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