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Archive for Thursday, January 9, 1992

BUSINESSES TAKE CONSERVATIVE TACT

January 9, 1992

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The state's business lobby has turned out a conservative wish list for the 1992 Kansas Legislature.

As a sign of the state's fiscally troubled times, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry has limited its objectives to lowering costs for business owners and hanging onto the existing funding that benefits the state's business community.

Bud Grant, the KCCI's vice president, concedes that the 1992 Legislature may not have the time or inclination to give much attention to the specific needs of Kansas businesses. The coming session promises to be dominated by such issues as property taxes, school finance, abortion and reapportionment, as well as lawmakers' concerns about the November elections.

"You've got a pot there that's really full of stew," Grant said. "I do know that the business issues are going to be introduced. Whether they'll receive the kind of attention they deserve, it's probably too early to tell."

THE LAWRENCE Chamber of Commerce still is working on its objectives for the 1992 Legislature. Results from surveys sent to chamber members were to be tabulated Tuesday, but Gary Toebben, chamber president, said the poll's findings and the chamber's official position statement will not be released until after the chamber's board meets Jan. 22.

However, many of the issues listed on the local chamber's questionnaire also are addressed on KCCI's statement of major legislative objectives.

Here are the highlights of the KCCI's position statement, which was released Tuesday:

Worker's compensation: The KCCI supports worker's comp reform that would meet workers' needs while lowering employer liability for expenses. Grant said the KCCI's objective is to lower employer costs, which increased by $77 million in Kansas last year, an amount he said is more than it cost to run the entire program 15 years ago.

PROPERTY taxes: The KCCI will urge the Legislature to reduce the tax rate on commercial property.

"I think there's a general consensus among legislators that commercial property taxes are too high, that the 30 percent rate that's currently in the constitution is too high," Grant said.

The KCCI is asking the Legislature to lower commercial property taxes without reinstating the tax on inventories. Instead, the KCCI is calling for a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax, which would be applied to school funding.

Lottery: The KCCI is backing an extension of the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, which is funded with state lottery proceeds. The fund generated $26 million last year for economic development across the state.

Shoplifting: The state chamber supports passage of a law that would impose civil penalties on shoplifters. Grant said that criminal penalties alone are not a significant deterrent to repeat offenders and that shoplifting costs Kansas merchants $260 million a year.

UNEMPLOYMENT compensation: Grant said the state's unemployment insurance fund's balance is at an all-time high and has become an easy target for lawmakers looking for sources of revenue for programs for such things as job training. The KCCI opposes any effort to use the funds for anything other than their intended purpose.

Employee relations: Although Grant said the KCCI believes mandatory standards for health insurance and family and medical leave eventually will be imposed on the workplace, the KCCI opposes proposals for a state mandate until the issue is resolved at the federal level.

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