LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:   Legislature may refine 'real property' definition

Representative, 74th District

Things are certainly heating up in the legislative session. Bills are coming out of committees and stacking up under the line for possible floor debate.

As of today, there are over 50 bills under the line. We say under the line as there is a physical line on the House calendar and any bills above the line are up for floor debate on that day, but any bills below the line are cued up for possible debate another day.

The majority leader, together with the speaker, decides if and when any bills below the line make it above the line for floor debate. Not all bills below the line make it to the full floor.

There are several taxation bills below the line. One attracting attention at this time is a bill that would better define what type of manufacturing equipment would be classified as real property and what is personal property. There has been an ongoing dispute in a southeast Kansas county for several years and resolution of this issue by the legislature is needed at some point. Another bill would make changes to and rename the Court of Tax Appeals. So far, the “Fair Tax” has not been scheduled for a hearing.

On a slightly different subject, we have had an audit of some of the tax incentive programs recently and the results suggest we should do a better job of evaluating whether programs are working as planned or if the money is being wasted. The Department of Commerce is normally responsible for the evaluations.

Several bills related to crimes and criminal punishments are making their way above the line. Some of the more notable bills relating to crime are bills that address human trafficking and related crimes and punishment. Human trafficking is often thought to be something that happens in another part of the world, but it’s surprising how common it is even in Kansas.

Many kids that run away from home end up in the human trafficking stream, and most of those end up in the sex trade. Along with that, these kids often become addicted to drugs making it even more difficult to escape the situation.

The last couple of years, the legislature has been trying to clean up the statute books by repealing obsolete laws. I always like those because the bills are only four or five lines long and simply say which statute is repealed. Of course, that means going to the books and actually looking up what the statute says that is being eliminated.

Proposals to change spring elections to the fall are being worked on and the mortgage registration fee issue is still alive. The main issues with the mortgage registration fee being eliminated are what source of revenue would replace it and the fact that a small part of that fee was used for historic preservation projects. Many are interested in maintaining the historic preservation funding.

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