TOPEKA (KSNT) — Lawmakers are moving forward with plans to provide relief to farmers recovering from wildfires in western Kansas last month.
The state’s Assessment and Taxation committee voted to unanimously approve a proposal that allows tax exemptions for certain property that was damaged by wildfires. The move signals strong support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as lawmakers prepare to take it up for debate on the Senate floor.
Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, who chairs the committee, told Kansas Capitol Bureau that they’re trying to fast-track the bill, and take action soon.
“We are trying to expedite, there are things that we could do,” Tyson said. “The fiscal note is minimal compared to the devastation of these individuals.”
The bill is promising to help with recovery efforts, after wildfires tore through several parts of the state, damaging buildings, and killing hundreds of livestock.
The proposal provides tax exemptions for fencing. Tyson said the fencing is estimated to cost thousands of dollars for each mile. It would provide the sales tax exemption to help with the cost. The republican senator also added a property tax exemption portion to the Senate’s version of the bill.
“More importantly, if we can get this bill passed, is the property tax relief for these buildings that are devastated,” Tyson said. “In Kansas, if it’s not a home, you would still owe property tax on that property, so we need to fix that.”
The House also has their own version of the bill, and can also add similar changes before approval.
Senators are preparing to debate the bill on the floor next week, and things could go quickly. Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said he’s seen other natural disaster relief bills in the past that have encouraged lawmakers to take swift action.
“Government should fill the gaps for those, who by no fault of their own, are afflicted by natural, or even sometimes, man-made disasters,” Haley said.