Capitol beats: ‘Focus now is getting narrower and narrower’

03/15/2014 2:27 PM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

Capitol beats

Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.

Say what?

“It’s more than just we don’t have time. It’s at the end of the session and this is when we focus on the budget, this is when we focus on tax policy…the main focus right now is solving the education financing puzzle, so our focus now is getting narrower and narrower.”

Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, explaining why the House Federal and State Affairs Committee has no plans to hold hearings on a bill that would provide anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Well, every bill’s alive until the end of the session, so that’s a fair statement.”

Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, chair of the House Taxation Committee, responding to a statement from Rodney Steven, the president of Genesis Health Clubs, that Senate Bill 72 could be revived this session. Carlson’s committee tabled the bill, which would give property tax exemptions to private health clubs.

39.8 percent

That’s the percent increase in oil production Kansas has seen in the past 10 years according to a March report from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Trending

Rodney Steven of Genesis Health Clubs had a disappointing week. The House Taxation Committee tabled a bill, passed by the Senate last year, that would give private health clubs like Genesis property tax breaks. The legislation is designed to address what Steven says is an unfair advantage that the YMCA and community recreation centers selling adult fitness memberships have with property and sales tax exemptions.

Tabling means the bill isn’t dead but would require a majority vote to be reconsidered. Steven visited the Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday to lobby that legislators take up the matter again. Carlson said there are numerous ways to “resurrect” the bill, but that he has no plans to do so at this time. He also said there are no plans to move forward with HB 2498, an alternate bill that would take away tax exemptions from the YMCA.

News ahead

Democrats introduced bills in the House and Senate that would allow the Legislature to allocate the $129 million that is estimated to solve school funding inequities outright and satisfy the Supreme Court’s decision without need for further court action. Republicans are resistant to spending that much and continue dispute that a specific amount is needed to fix the equity issue. Several Republicans also say they can find money in other areas of the budget to shift toward equalization.

Bryan Lowry

For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BryanLowry3 on Twitter.

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