Update From Topeka with Rep. Shannon Francis

KSCB News - February 1, 2016 10:16 am

There were a number of groups in Topeka this week representing Liberal and Seward County. The Liberal
Chamber of Commerce was here attending the Western Kansas Regional Economic Development Meetings and
hosting the Southwest Chambers Reception. County Administrator April Warden
attended numerous meetings dealing with legislative affairs, economic forecasts for Kansas, health insurance,
and the property tax lid.
Ron & Mary Oliver were here representing our rural electric coops. Ron and I also discussed the property tax
lid and issues affecting our Community College. Seward County Clerk Stacia Long talked to me about problems
with the tax lid bill dealing with the required election in conjunction with the budget cycle. Nick Hatcher came
up to share information about the Cimarron Basin Advisory Boards recommendations for the Governor s fifty
year water vision. Zach Hrencher and Jerry Stuckey with the Moscow Cotton Gin and High Plains Cotton Coop
were up talking about the soon to be released 2-4-D resistant cotton variety.
I can t overstate how important it is for our community to be active in state wide organizations and make the
long drive to Topeka. When you are meeting with legislators in Topeka and you are passionate it makes a
difference. This week we had many passionate citizens in Topeka talking about Southwest Kansas. Legislators
from across the state noticed and listened.
Tax Lid
There is movement afoot in Topeka to speed up the effective date and limit the exemptions of a new
property tax lid on our Cities and Counties. The original bill had a number of exemptions and was not to go
into effect until 2017. This year special interest groups in Topeka want to eliminate some of the proposed
exemptions and move up the effective date to 2016. There are a number of technical errors in the bill, as
passed, mainly because it never had a hearing and was put in the tax bill by the conference committee late in
the process to garner votes from legislators and favor from some lobbying groups.
I have heard from many of our local realtors in support of the bill and many of our local elected officials in
opposition to the bill. I struggle with the division in our community regarding this bill. I believe in local control
and that in a representative democracy you have control of your local officials at the ballot box. Any of us can
run for these offices. I am concerned about mandates from Topeka. Kansas is very diverse and the effects of
this lid will vary greatly between communities. Many times when our local governments are forced to raise
taxes or cut services it is because of something that originated in Topeka or Washington D.C. I will continue to
watch this bill as it goes through the process and finalize my decision when I see its final form.
Do you know a junior high or high school student who would like to be a page for a day in the Kansas
State Capitol? In addition to learning about the legislative process by paging on the House floor, pages will get
a guided tour of the beautifully restored Capitol building and a picture with the Governor. If interested, please
contact my assistant Jane Clouse at 785-296-7655 or
[email protected]


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