Bill retains property-tax help for local government, includes a ?poke?

HB 2609 is the new HB 2212 I wrote about two weeks ago. It came back as promised Friday, with both its moving parts.

The property-tax relief portion in the bill of $45 million to local governments (not schools) is very important to all Kansans, and that part passed.

The bill in its final form also had that part forcing local governments to lower their mill levies to match the previous year?s budget, then raise to the mill levy needed to do business. This ?poke-in-the-eye? to local governments is unnecessary in the 70th District, but likely is a harmless exercise in futility and paperwork.

Our local leaders consistently talk openly and often about the moving parts and interaction of mill levies and budgets. We initially had that piece knocked out of the bill upon first vote, but on reconsideration it passed by a two-vote margin. In order to not lose the LAVTR tax relief portion, I had to vote for the whole thing, and did.

We also dealt with HB 2353, a bill to permit handguns in college dorms and on college campuses, in nursing homes, in hospitals, and also in city, county, state and other government buildings, unless the building has been adequately secured with scanners and metal detectors. K-12 school buildings are already exempt public places.

The bill did not offer any funding to pay the cost of security equipment; it leaves that to local government. When committee hearings were held on the bill, the committee considered and rejected requests to exempt any of the these groups from the mandate, but in the full House during floor debate, amendments to exempt were again offered.

Because of them, every college, nursing home and hospital can choose to disallow handguns in its facilities; the amendments passed after lengthy debate. That means unless local governments spend the money to secure (as set out in the bill), they?re open to concealed handguns.

I tried balancing the rights of all Kansans, so today on final action (Monday, March 12), I did not support it.

The big debate today (Monday) was supposed to be the income tax bill?House Substitute for SB 177. It was pulled from Monday?s calendar, and as this goes to press we?ve not heard it on the floor of the House.

I thought the Marion Community Center had a good-sized crowd for the Republican Presidential Caucus. Those present seemed quite interested throughout the time I was present. I anticipate the Marion County Republican Party Chairman would like to know participants? thoughts about the format and the entire process particularly whether the method was fair and effective.

Todd Heitschmidt is the Republican Party chairman for Marion County, so he was in charge of the site. But Todd did not set up the procedure; neither did I. The procedure was directed by the state committee.

Nonetheless, I predict Todd would like feedback from those in attendance.

You may e-mail me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861 or Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612; or call me at 620-382-2133 or 785-296-7636.

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