The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 17, 1986 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, January 17, 1986
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Page 10
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Local/Kansas 2 The Salina Journal Friday, January 17,1986 Page 10 Smoking ban attempt fails at the Statehouse By BRENT BATES Staff Writer TOPEKA — An attempt by six members of the Statehouse press corps to get smoking banned in public areas at the Capitol apparently has smoldered out. The six Statehouse reporters drew up a petition this week asking that smoking be prohibited in the Capitol in areas "where non-smokers congregate for employment or to participate in the legislative process.'' But the petition did not gain any more signatures and supporters say it probably will be left to die without ever making it to the legislative floor. "We don't have any plans to do anything with it right now," said Dale Goter, a Harris News Service reporter who was involved in drawing up the petition. "There are only six signatures on it. We haven't taken it beyond the press room offices. We wouldn't submit a petition with only six names on it... We probably will not do anything else with it." Rep. Bill Roy Jr., whose district includes the Capitol, saw the petition but did not file it or attempt to bring it to the Legislature. He recommended the group try to get more signatures. Others signing the petition with Goter were Lew Ferguson, head of the Topeka Associated Press bureau; John Hanna, an AP reporting intern; Jim McLean, a reporter for a Lawrence public radio station; Dave Ranney, a Harris News Service reporter; and Bill Vogrin, an Associated Press reporter. Goter, a non-smoker, said he personally was concerned about the health hazards of working where others were smoking. "It (a smoking ban) is something non-smokers have talked about a lot," Goter said. "It would be nice if we didn't have to put up with the interferences of smoke... The issue is workplace conditions." But some reporters at the Statehouse said they refused to sign the petition because they had ethical questions about reporters becoming personally involved in the legislative process. "It seems to all of us the issue before the press corps at this point is not smoking or non-smoking in the state capitol," said Jack McNeely, a reporter for the Wichita Eagle- Beacon. "It is the obligation of the government-beat reporter to personally abstain from the political process." McNeely said it has been a long- established standard of journalistic ethics that a government-beat reporter should never become personally involved in the governmental process. "The two reporters circulating the anti-smoking petition (Goter and Vogrin) have clearly exceeded the bounds of acceptable conduct for government-beat reporters," he said. Paul Stevens, Kansas City, AP bureau chief for Kansas and Missouri, said because a legislator was involved, it gave the appearance the reporters were taking a lobbying role. He requested that the AP reporters remove their names from the petition to avoid that appearance. "I believe it was not the intention on the part of Lew Ferguson, Bill Vogrin or John Hanna to be put in a lobbying role," Stevens said. "Their only concern was having a smoke- free area in which to work. "But we're also a news organization and we have to put down any appearance" of lobbying government organizations. Smoking is banned on the House floor, but is allowed in the Senate chambers, in committee meetings and other places in the Statehouse. Bills would overturn tax ruling on churches TOPEKA (AP) — Two proposals introduced Thursday in the Kansas House would overturn a recent Kansas Board of Tax Appeals opinion that churches and other non-profit groups lose their property tax- exempt status when they open daycare centers on their property. One bill would add the day-care centers to the list of activities for which property tax exemptions are granted. The ^ / other defines the day-care operations as "human Rolfs services" applying to the "health, welfare and character-building of others." Rep. Ed Rolfs is chairman of the House Assessment and Taxation Committee, which sponsored the measures. He said the Board of Tax Appeals opinion has led county assessors across the state to begin putting property on the tax rolls if it is owned by churches and non-profit organizations that charge a fee for day-care services. Rolfs said the Kansas Legislature never intended the exempt groups to lose their status merely because they run such facilities and said the bills are designed to attack the problem from two sides. "They're different approaches to the same problem," Rolfs said. He said that Shawnee County Appraiser Gary Smith is one of the appraisers who has begun to place property on the tax rolls in response to the tax panel's opinion. Smith confirmed that he has started to evaluate activities on chrch and non-profit organization property. The evaluations are necessary in case the Legislature decides not to change the qualifications for tax exemptions, Smith said. "It's a serious problem," Smith said. Fred Weaver, chairman of the Board of Tax Appeals, said the panel made its ruling in an opinion for a church in Stanley that was considering the establishment of a day-care operation. Housing board looks for house The Salina Housing Authority will begin searching for one more house to reach its goal of having 25 houses in its federal rent subsidy program for large families. The authority has spent about $900,000 from a budget of $1.4 million supplied by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to acquire 24 three-, four- and five- bedroom homes for large, low- income families. Of the total, two are five-bedroom, six are four-bedroom and 16 are three-bedroom houses. As part of the HUD agreement, five of the three- bedroom houses will be made accessible to handicapped tenants. The authority needs one more three-bedroom unit to complete the list and will begin advertising for suitable property. The housing authority manages 175 one- and two-bedroom units, most of which are located in west Salina. The newer purchases were selected from sites scattered throughout the city. In other action, the authority adopted a resolution establishing income limits for its housing assistance programs. Salina Housing Authority Executive Director Abner Perney said the new limits range from $500 to $1,400 higher than previous limits. The maximum income limits for admittance to the rent-subsidy program are $9,300 for one person to a high of $17,550 for eight or more. The rents are based on 30 percent of the adjusted income of the tenant. The authority also agreed to purchase a computer and software from Lindsey and Co., Searcy, Ark., for $15,053. Zoning board OKs four items The Salina Board of Zoning Appeals made a clean sweep of its agenda Thursday, approving all four items, including a change in its meeting time from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Approved was a conditional use permit filed by Reginald Hurd, 645 Magnolia, for a mini-storage facility. Hurd also is building an electronics school near the site. According to his site plan, the mini-storage facility is located behind the school site. The board also agreed to extend a conditional use permit issued to John Ferguson June 20, 1985, to build a housing facility for the elderly in the 600 block of S. Third Street. Ferguson wanted to extend the permit for six months so he could begin construction in more favorable weather. Also granted was a front-yard variance for Eugene Trimble, 816 Willow Drive. Trimble wants to construct a four-by-12-foot bay window addition to the front of his house and needed a variance of the required setback, from 25 to 21 feet. Norton handgun not murder weapon NORTON (AP) — The attorney for Norton farmer Lynn Thiele said Thursday authorities have determined that a .45-caliber handgun found at Thiele's farm was not used in two killings last August at another farm he owned in southeastern Nebraska. Harold McCubbin said Terry Becker, an investigator with the Nebraska Highway Patrol, told him that the handgun was not used in the deaths of James Thimm, 26, of Beatrice, Neb., and Luke Stice, 5, of Falls City, Neb. "Becker told me it's not the murder weapon," McCubbin said. "I don't know where Becker got his information. All I know is what he told me." Becker and other Nebraska authorities declined to release officially the results of ballistics checks on the weapon. 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