The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 1, 1997 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 1, 1997
Page 3
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r THE SALINA JOURNAL GREAT PLAINS T WRAP-UP SESSION STARTS Wrap-up brings LOB, spending progress Senate rebuffs another effort to ban some abortions as legislators open wrap-up By LEW FERGUSON 77i£ Associated Press TOPEKA — The Senate rebuffed another effort to ban late-term abortions, the House approved the last big spending bill, and there was progress toward settling the local option budget issue as the Legislature launched its wrap-up session on Wednesday. Both houses continue today working on a , r half-dozen bills whose passage was considered critical before the Le"g- " islature finishes its LEGISLATURE w ^ for 1997. Leaders remain hopeful that necessary business can be completed by Friday night, but concede it may take a Saturday session to finish. Prison expansion, spending on juvenile justice programs and economic development programs, and extent of renovation of the governor's residence are issues that could delay completion of the omnibus appropriations bill. Other issues that could take beyond Friday to resolve are renewal of school districts' local option budgets, legislation to implement federal child support and health insurance laws and ethics reform legislation. And, nobody considers the abortion issue dead for this session. Abortion stalemate The Senate launched the wrap-up session where it ended the regular session on April 11 — debating abortion. Senators engaged in an hour of sometimes emotional debate before defeating a bill that would have banned most late-term 'abortions. 1 A motion by Sen. Laurie Bleeker, R-Great Bend, to concur in the House version of a bill toughening the state's abortion regulation failed on an 18-22 vote. "I don't anticipate any more (motions to concur) at this point," Bleeker said later — "not unless something changes." The bill remains in a conference committee, which could try to reconcile House and Senate differences. V PROPERTY APPRAISAL _.,.__ The Associated Press Sen. Laurie Bleeker, R-Great Bend, holds a sonogram of her son during a debate on a bill to ban most third-trimester abortions. Sen. Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, said she would probably call a meeting today. But Rep. Tim Carmody, R-Overland Park, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the abortion conference committee, said he was not inclined to attend. Hope on school LOBs A glimmer of hope emerged from a conference committee meeting that the House and Senate might be able to reach compromise on school districts' local option budgets. Conference committee members developed four options for resolving the LOB dilemma, but adjourned without reaching agreement on the issue some think could delay adjournment of the Legislature's wrapup session. The committee scheduled another meeting for today. At issue is whether to allow the 162 school districts that have LOBs to retain them without giving voters a chance to reject them, and whether to provide a way for the 142 districts that have no LOBs to get them without voter approval. Spending bill House debate over the omnibus appropriations bill focused on dissatisfaction over economic development programs and how state money is being invested. The House approved three proposals that cut economic development spending and restrict activities of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., the state agency charged with helping to develop high-technology businesses. The fiouse adopted on voice vote an amendment by Rep. Ed McKechnie, D-Pittsburg, to prohibit economic development investments in companies outside Kansas for a year, starting July 1. It also adopted, 91-21, an amendment that recaptured $3.2 million the Legislature set aside in 1995 for seed capital for new businesses. Also adopted, 75-38, was an amendment that takes the first step toward ending economic development programs in favor of a general business tax cut. County likes bill to put extra info on tax bills New notices will give people two years' worth of tax details By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlie Salina Journal Legislation that will require two years' worth of appraisal and tax information on yearly tax bills should give taxpayers a better iidea of their tax liabilities, county 'officials said this week. • But having all of that information on one or two statements also 'could confuse some, said Keith Lilly, Saline County's treasurer. * The legislation affecting tax "statements was included in the Kansas Tax Equity and Fairness ;Act of 1997, signed Friday by Gov. Bill Graves. ; The bill's purpose was to make •state tax laws more "user-friendly" *and less confrontational, especially .to businesses. Amendments affecting property tax statements were added before the bill was passed. •; The law states that starting with It T KANSAS LEGISLATURE 1998 tax statements, which will be mailed in November 1998, statements will list prior and current year information on appraised value, taxes levied, mill levies for each taxing unit and the change in those mill levies. Lilly said Saline County's statements currently show a taxpayer's bill and the amount of the bill that would be allocated to each taxing entity for the taxing year only, not for previous years. It also shows the total tax levy, but doesn't break the levy down into individual taxing units. "It says nothing about prior years unless there's an amount due from a prior year, and then it lists the years that are unpaid," Lilly said. Questions and costs Lilly said he wasn't sure if the information on prior years was to be sent to taxpayers on the same statement as the tax bill or on a separate sheet of paper sent at another time. And he wasn't sure who would "The more information we can get to the taxpayers, the better off they'll be" Rod Broberg Saline County appraiser be responsible for compiling and mailing that information to taxpayers. The Kansas County Treasurers' Association is to meet next week and probably will discuss the issue, he said. Regardless of what county office is responsible for creating and distributing the statements, Lilly said new computer software would be necessary at a cost yet to be determined. "We have nothing at this point that ties two years together," Lilly said. "I would expect that would be quite a software expense." Rod Broberg, Saline County appraiser, said the change could be good for taxpayers. "The more information we can get to the taxpayers, the better off they'll be," Broberg said. Dave Anderson, Dickinson County's appraiser, said some larger counties have been providing detailed tax information with tax statements for many years. "I think it's good," Anderson said. It might be confusing But county officials said the additional information could be confusing to some people as well. If the statement of values is sent separately from the tax bill, Lilly said, some people might believe the statement is a bill. Or people might think that because information for two years is on the statement, they owe taxes for those two years. "For some, it will be complete confusion," Lilly said. Broberg said if people were confused by the statements, they could call him or Lilly. Other changes in the bill that affect property taxes include: • Counties would be required to pay interest when refunding overpayments of taxes. Broberg said that provision probably won't affect Saline County too much. • Property owners will be given 30 days from the date on their change-in-value notices to request a hearing to appeal the value. The past several years, the cutoff date for appeals was April 15. • The state's Property Valuation Division will enact new registration requirements for county appraisers. Currently, appraisers are certified through the Kansas Real Estate Board, which requires 1,500 hours of fee appraisal experience, Anderson said. Many county appraisers can't meet that requirement, but have thousands of hours of mass appraisal experience. The House wants Stovall off crime commission Stovall refused to back shorter sentences to ease prison crowding By The Associated Press . TOPEKA — A bill that would remove Attorney General Carla Stovall from a commission that reviews criminal justice issues has won unanimous House approval. The vote Wednesday was 123-0. The House Select Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice attached the provision relating to Stovall to a Senate-passed bill making technical changes in criminal justice laws. The Senate has to consider the proposal, and if it rejects it, a joint conference committee will negotiate. During debate, supporters said only that the bill changed the composition of the Kansas Sentencing Commission. They did not say how the composition would change, and no one asked. As attorney general, Stovall is chairwoman of the commission. During her tenure, it has refused to consider proposals to reduce criminal sentences to ease prison overcrowding. Instead, it en- dorsed the Department of Corrections' $14 million prison expansion proposal. Stovall sent a letter to House members, urging them to reject the bill. She said the bill was "punishment of the commission for speaking the truth." "It is expensive to build more prison space, but unleashing violent criminals and habitual bur- glars and thieves on the citizens of this state is even more expensive," Stovall said in her letter. Rep. Ed McKechnie, D-Pittsburg, said the select committee recommended the change to restore the commission's credibility. "We did it because she's way too political, and this letter just proves it," McKechnie said. MAURI WEIGH Auto - Home Insurance Phone 827-2906 115 East Iron Events of the Day "* Salina Journal THURSDAY, MAY 1. 1997 A3 LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS Abortion Rebuff The Senate rejected, 18-22, a motion by Sen. Laurie Bleeker to concur in a House bill that would ban most late-term abortions. The measure remained in a conference committee. Senate Chairwoman Lana Oleen said she likely would call a conference meeting, but House Chairman Tim Carmody expressed disinterest. Local Option Hope brightened slightly that the House and Senate can reach agreement on renewal of school districts' local option budgets. A conference committee developed • four options for resolving the LOB dilemma, but adjourned without reaching agreement. However, its members agreed to meet again on Thursday. Eco-Devo Funds House members showed displeasure with state economic development spending. They adopted amendments to the omnibus appropriations bill to ban investments in companies outside Kansas for a year, recapture $3.2 million set aside for seed capital for new business and use investment funds for business tax cuts. Campaign Finance The Christian Coalition and American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue if legislation is" approved requiring the reporting, of independent expenditures — those made during a campaign by a group or person not connected to a candidate. The unusual allies, called it unconstitutional. ;; Confirmations Gov. Bill Graves sent three appointments to the Senate for confus mation. He named Regenia Moore-" Lee, Topeka, as a new Kansas Public Employees Retirement System ; trustee, reappointed Vern Chesbro," Ottawa, to KPERS and reappointed" Larry Williams, Halstead, as a di- rector of Kansas Inc. 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