Daily Archives: Feb. 9, 2014

Open thread (Feb. 9)


Kansas, Missouri on different pages on farm bill

KYLE DYCKFor the first time, all of Kansas’ representatives in the U.S. House voted against a farm bill, according to a New York Times analysis of votes going back to the 1950s. And of the entire congressional delegation, only Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., voted for the farm bill that President Obama signed Friday. “We were really disappointed that they didn’t vote with us,” said Steve Baccus, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau. A comparison of Kansas with neighboring Missouri is striking. Nine of Missouri’s 10 representatives and senators (including all seven Republicans) voted for the farm bill, and the 10th delegation member didn’t vote.

Genesis back at Statehouse seeking tax break

proptaxHaving persuaded only the Kansas Senate last year to pass a bill that would exempt for-profit health clubs from property taxes, Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven asked a House committee last week to level the playing field with the nonprofit YMCA. “My direct competition is from tax-exempt facilities,” Steven said. “These are buildings that are twice our size and they are able to charge half our price because they do not pay or charge any sales tax, no property tax, no income tax.” But the exemption for for-profit clubs would cost the state and especially local governments a lot of revenue, while inviting similar tax-break requests from private golf courses, karate schools and more. A separate measure, HB 2498, would repeal the property-tax exemption for “community service organizations providing humanitarian services” such as YMCAs. Neither bill reflects the YMCA’s unique role in serving low-income populations and especially children and youths.

No more limbo for old Macy’s parking garage

macysgarageDowntown revitalization took another crucial step forward with the Wichita City Council’s approval last week of a $6.85 million plan to repair and reopen the old Macy’s parking garage at Market and William. Getting the deteriorating structure out of legal and financial limbo and back in service will boost the downtown community, and be a plus as state agencies exit the Finney State Office Building and the city seeks a new future for the property.