TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) – A Colorado company and Kansas resident sued over a Kansas state law requiring farm corporations be made up entirely of Kansas residents.
Earlier this week, CNK Inc. and Ross Guebelle filed a complaint saying the law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against non-Kansans and creating a burden upon interstate commerce. CNK, an agricultural corporation that owns and develops farmland in eastern Colorado, wanted to buy Guebelle’s land and expand their operations into Kansas.
“One of the things the Commerce Clause forbids is favoring in-state economic commerce over out-of state,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Allen Glendenning said.
CNK and Guebelle say Kansas also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by allowing out-of-state businesses to purchase agricultural land for nonagricultural use without meeting the same requirements.
Additionally, they say the law violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which prevents states from discriminating against citizens of other states. They accuse the state of providing favorable treatment to Kansas businesses and purposely excluding out-of-state capital providers from operating in the Sunflower State.
Finally, the law violates the Kansas Bill of Rights, which states “no distinction shall ever be made between citizens of the state of Kansas and the citizens of other states and territories of the United States in reference to the purchase, enjoyment or descent of property,” the plaintiffs say.
The Kansas Attorney General’s office didn’t respond to a voicemail requesting comment by press time.
CNK and Guebelle seek a declaration that the law is unconstitutional, and an order permanently barring Kansas from enforcing it.