Topeka House Republicans on Wednesday reversed field and voted against a measure providing $90 million in property tax relief, alleging they were tricked into voting for it.
And one House Republican, state Rep. Owen Donohoe of Shawnee, said he would bring a motion of censure against state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, whose property tax relief amendment was approved last week.
But Democrats scoffed at the Republican allegations. House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, asked "Why do Republicans have to be `tricked' into supporting property tax cuts?"
Ward said he didn't trick anybody and described Donohoe as a "cranky, old man."
The dispute centered on Thursday's vote when the House approved 122-2 a measure by Ward to cut property taxes by $90 million over two years.
Ward presented his proposal as an amendment during debate of House Bill 2212, which was supported by Republicans and would restrict property tax increases if overall property valuations increased.
During debate, Republican leaders, who control the House, told GOP members to vote for Ward's amendment because it was the underlying bill they really wanted.
But later, Republicans discovered that Ward's amendment was actually a "gut and go," meaning that it eliminated the underlying bill.
On Wednesday, Republicans met in caucus and vented their frustration over the turn of events.
House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, and Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, and others apologized to the caucus for not knowing what Ward's amendment did. But they also accused Ward of not being forthright during debate.
"We obviously put our trust where we should never have put our trust," said Siegfreid.
Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, said he felt like a running back who missed a blitzing linebacker. "I've been disgusted ever since," he said.
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, said Ward lied about his amendment, and Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth, said perhaps Republicans should vote `No' whenever a Democrat proposes an amendment to a bill.
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the incident should serve as a warning to all legislators to know what the bills are about. "Thursday, it was a Democrat. It could just as easily be a Republican," O'Neal said.
After the caucus meeting, Republicans returned to the House and voted to reconsider the bill, and then voted against the bill. Republicans said that a similar bill that includes the underlying bill and Ward amendment will be reconstructed and considered in the House tax committee.
Meanwhile, Ward denied he tried to deceive Republicans. And, he said, the Republican vote on Wednesday essentially "took away $90 million in property tax cuts."