Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Votes to Mandate State Transparency on Tax Incentives

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

House Votes to Mandate State Transparency on Tax Incentives

Article excerpt

The Kansas House moved forward with legislation Tuesday requiring the Kansas Department of Commerce and state legislative auditors to bring an unprecedented level of transparency to income and property tax breaks awarded to businesses to recruit and retain jobs.

Bipartisan support emerged for the bill mandating that the commerce department place on a public website detailed information about large incentive programs. The measure also would require auditors working for the Kansas Legislature to analyze the performance of inducements offered to companies. Information on incentives tied to confidential agreements executed before July 1 would remain secret under the bill.

“It allows all of us to join together and be more accountable to our constituency and be more organized, and make sure that whatever economic developments that have been passed along actually work, they do what they’re supposed to do,” said Rep. Kristey Williams, an Augusta Republican.

Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-Kansas City, Kan., said independent assessment of the state’s return on investment was overdue and the high degree of secrecy attached to the state’s role in commercial projects had to end.

“This has been needed for a long time,” he said. “We need to make sure every dollar we spend, that the bank of Kansas is getting an ROI back.”

The House is scheduled to take final action on the economic-incentive bill and more than two dozen other pieces of legislation on Wednesday.

Rep. Megan Lynn, R-Olathe, led debate leading to tentative approval of House Bill 2198, which would speed medical treatment of patients and their partners who contract chlamydia. It is a common sexually transmitted disease that can infect women and men.

Under the bill, the infected patient could receive medication for himself or herself and drugs to care for infected partners. …

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