Archive for Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kansas House OKs bill prohibiting local ‘inclusionary zoning’ laws, nutrition labeling

April 30, 2016

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TOPEKA — The Kansas House passed a bill Saturday that takes away the authority of local governments to enact a host of laws or programs that many Republicans consider interference with free market economics.

Senate Bill 366 is a conference committee bill that includes provisions of four bills that were passed, in different forms, by one or both of the legislative chambers.

One provision, which was aimed specifically at Lawrence, would prohibit local governments from enacting what are called "inclusionary zoning" laws that are aimed at promoting mixed-income neighborhoods by regulating the sale or resale price of a certain number of homes within a specified area.

It's a concept that has only been informally discussed among Lawrence officials, but it was enough to prompt the Kansas Association of Realtors to push for legislation blocking it.

Another provision would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing rental property licensing programs that require periodic interior inspections of housing units without the occupant's consent.

A third provision contains what's commonly known as an "anti-Bloomberg" law, prohibiting local governments from regulating the labeling or nutritional content of food sold in retail stores or vending machines. Such laws are named after former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed for a ban on the sale of large sugary soft drinks.

But a provision was inserted into the final bill at the request of Douglas and Johnson counties to exempt what are called "double up" programs, an incentive program for people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to buy fresh produce by allowing them to buy twice as much of those foods as the regular price would indicate.

Finally, the bill also prohibits local governments from enacting local labor laws that regulate the work schedules and hours of private-sector workers.

"Every single provision of this bill is an attack on local control," said Rep. Boog Highberger, D-Lawrence. "Every single part of this bill impacts actions that have been taken in my community, by our local elected officials, to try to improve the lives of our citizens."

But Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, who chairs the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee where the bills originated, argued that the bill, and the limits on rental inspections in particular, are aimed at protecting individual rights.

The bill passed the House, 76-45. The Senate may take up the measure when lawmakers convene Sunday. If it's approved there, it would be sent to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Comments

Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

It won't be hard for historians to one day identify when this state completely bottomed out. Day One: refuse to repeal. Day Two: this mess.

Thank your local realtor and the Lawrence Board of Realtors for taking away your right to influence local housing laws. The legislators know better. I mean, look how well they've handled everything else.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 6 months ago

I will feel pure joy the day that Luke Bell leaves Kansas for Illinois. He's done enough damage to LFK, even though he lives here. Try replacing him with someone who at least doesn't go after the town he lives in, KAR. Those bills were a crock and we all know it.

Buzz Anderson 1 year, 6 months ago

Watching Kansas self implode is almost like watching a grade B movie.

Just pop up a batch of popcorn, pull up a chair and watch Kansas as it slowly swirls down the drain. Just keep voting republican folks and your state will soon be begging at the door of the hated "BIG GOVERNMENT" to bail them out on both knees as we see what a failure republican economic (more commonly known as 'voodoo economics')policies are.

You get what you voted for.

Mark Lawlor 1 year, 6 months ago

It seems the republican goal is to have a Governor that is all powerful. Federally they want power given to the states. On the other hand they do not want cities or counties to have a say and must abide by the state.

Bob Reinsch 1 year, 6 months ago

The state hates government overreach unless they are the ones doing the overreaching.

David Reynolds 1 year, 6 months ago

There are positives to the law just passed in spite of the negativity above.

First, restricting "Inclusionary Zoning" protects property rights. There is a mixed history regarding Inclusionary Zoning, especially in how it is enacted, mostly thru "Mandating" IZ. I will acknowledge there can be positives depending on how it is implemented & paid for.

Second, the real benefit to the law just passed is, if those in Lawrence promoting affordable housing, are really serious, then Lawrence will evaluate the impact of all of those ordinances passed over the last 20 years which have significantly raised all housing costs. Some examples: For a home I recently priced the costs to be paid to the city including building permit fee, system development fees, & master street tree plan fee, totals $7,093.82 versus several hundred dollars 20 years ago. With these costs plus the energy code requirements, various studies, planning fees, etc have added roughly $30k to the price of a home. The price of land in Johnson County, depending on sub-division, is roughly half of Lawrence & that is due to the way they handle the development financing costs. If you think the sub-contractors & builders are raising their fees you will find that is not true. The market dictates selling price. Government significantly impacts costs & those costs are passed on. Arithmetic tells the tale of profit.

Third, the other significant piece of solving the Affordable Housing issue is job creation, skills & education development, & raising incomes of people/families living in Lawrence. All of us in Lawrence, citizens, chamber, city hall, business should be working on the same plan to see that Lawrence has the best paying jobs in the region & a growing employment base. I am not being critical of the chamber, but unanimous support for their work would go a long way to solving affordable housing and the many other needs of the city. Additionally, the sub-contractors in the building industry in Lawrence have a significant shortage of skilled labor. Many skilled labor jobs in the construction industry are lost to non-citizens.

So, if Lawrence wants affordable housing maybe Lawrence needs to rethink Inclusive Zoning; the totality of affordability, which includes costs, jobs, job skills, & incomes, and rethink their want list and how it gets paid for. The development community is not the only player when it comes to having affordable housing…it’s everyone of us!

With regard to the provision of the law which would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing rental property licensing programs that require periodic interior inspections of housing units without the occupant's consent.

To me this provision in the new law protects the US Constitutional rights granted under the 4th amendment of the individual renters. There can be no justification for invasion of privacy.

Melinda Henderson 1 year, 6 months ago

I appreciate your comments, David, and don't disagree with a lot of them. I'll try to respond later, but right now I'm just too tired to comment. FWIW, the bill did just pass the Senate so it's on to the governor and I'm sure he'll sign it.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 6 months ago

David, what is your plan to protect renters from substandard housing? And what would your plan be to get landlords to rent all their units, even if they have to take a lower rent for some units? The market does not dictate rent prices in Lawrence. There are plenty of empty apartments, but landlords would rather leave them empty than lower the price.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 6 months ago

"To me this provision in the new law protects the US Constitutional rights granted under the 4th amendment of the individual renters. There can be no justification for invasion of privacy." Ever signed a lease that give the landlord no right to inspect and protect his property? thought not.

"I am not being critical of the chamber, but unanimous support for their work would go a long way to solving affordable housing and the many other needs of the city." I reply that support of many of the Chamber's intrusions into governmental issues is a key player in the Kochian philosophy of business first, people not so much.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

" prohibiting local governments from regulating the labeling or nutritional content of food sold in retail stores or vending machines."

Consumers should not not know what is in that package food? What dummies conservatives tend to be.

Bob Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

Or perhaps, people who make and sell food should not have to navigate a maze of possibly conflicting local regulations in order to do business. This is a good outcome for small businesses. You are in favor of small business, right?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 6 months ago

So if they make food that has nuts in it, and do not inform people, should those people or the family of the now dead person be allowed to sue the people for everything they own?

Bob Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

You took the absurd route again. What if Lawrence requires one type of label, Eudora requires a different label and Tongie requires something entirely different? A grocery store with locations in each town would have to stock products specific to that location or put all three labels on each package. This doesn't override federal requirements for labeling. It merely says that every jumped-up tank town can't write their own requirements. The legislature took the same tack a few years ago when they struck down the ability of towns to write their own laws regarding firearms. The sky refused to fall.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 6 months ago

Try telling the Feds that it is unrealistic for California and Arizona to require more stringent emissions than the rest of the states. They did pretty well with that, what with the "local control" they used to protect their respective citizens. Arguing any other way is simply a veiled attempt at "protecting" business from being responsible to the people who consume their products.

Too, it doesn't preclude the Federally mandated information, but only adds to it, unless enough governmental entities have the courage to demand the same new information. That's kind of how it's supposed to work, Bob: the people have a need to know and the government responds. Interesting concept, wouldn't you agree?

Oh, yeah, and aside from Eudora and Tongie, what "jumped-up tank towns" did you have in mind? I'm sure your characterization would be welcomed by them. Care to answer?

David Reynolds 1 year, 6 months ago

Dorothy if there are substandard rental units, there are plenty of ordinances & laws governing life, safety & health that can be enforced to protect renters. So that is a non-starter in this discussion.

With regard to empty rental units, so what?

If you are implying that the owners should just arbitrarily lower the rents so they can rent the empty units, that is a business decision.

If you are asking how do we get more affordable housing/rental units. please reread my comment above.

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