LETTERS: State Senate running amok
To the editor:
The news of the day is that State Senator Jay Emler has ascended to Majority Leader of the Kansas State Senate for the 2011 Kansas Legislative session.
For the citizens of Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Marion, Butler, and Cowley counties the selection of Emler is a bitter pill to swallow.
In 2006, the legislature passed a law, KSA 79-227, that granted the Keystone/TransCanada Cushing Extension pipeline a 10-year exemption from local property taxes in the six counties through which it passes. The lost tax draw to the six counties was estimated to be more than $18 million per year.
It is now known that the exemption did not bring the pipeline to Kansas. The route had been planned since before 2004. None of the states north of Kansas gave TransCanada property tax exemptions nor did Kansas exempt property taxes to the Keystone pipeline now operating across northeast Kansas.
As Chairman of the Senate Utilities and Energy Committee in 2006, Emler was a key player in drafting and passing this flawed and unfair law. In the past year, as the press and citizens knew the revelations and impact of this law, Emler has been AWOL and mostly unavailable except to claim he was lied to. TransCanada officials say that they never asked for the exemption but it was offered as a gift by the legislators.
When a bill, SB584, was introduced in the 2010 Legislative session to restore some of the lost tax revenue to the six counties, it was declared DOA. Where was Emler’s support, since several of the counties are in his district?
There are three possibilities to explain Emler’s actions: he was ill informed and ignorant, he was too gullible, or the large foreign energy company corrupted him. This blot on Emler’s 10-year legislative career should have eliminated him from ever being considered for re-election much less a leadership position.
Harry E. Bennett
Last modified Dec. 30, 2010