GOP wants to force virus reimbursement

Senate Republicans picked up the torch Thursday of an effort to force counties placing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses to reimburse owners for payment of local property taxes and to require the state to establish a $100 million claims fund for benefit of businesses shut down or curtailed by executive order during the public health disaster.

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March 12, 2021 - 10:10 AM

TOPEKA — Senate Republicans picked up the torch Thursday of an effort to force counties placing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses to reimburse owners for payment of local property taxes and to require the state to establish a $100 million claims fund for benefit of businesses shut down or curtailed by executive order during the public health disaster.

Two bills in hands of the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee were characterized by supporters as essential to holding state and local governments accountable for zealous overreaches that damaged or destroyed businesses. These measures, Senate Bill 149 and Senate Bill 286, could be viewed as part of a collective response by the Republican-led House and Senate to economic hardships arising from the pandemic. The GOP also views it as an opportunity to force Gov. Laura Kelly to accept income tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals she vetoed in the past.

Scott Schneider, who represents the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said the Senate bills reflected reality of pending and future lawsuits filed by businesses against county and state governments that relied on emergency powers to mandate the largest taking of its kind in state history. He said one of every six restaurants in Kansas wouldn’t survive the pandemic.

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