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Private health clubs get property tax exemption under Senate amendment
Some Senate Republicans did some heavy lifting on Friday for private gyms by voting to give them a property tax exemption.
State Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood, said it was unfair that for-profit private health clubs paid property taxes, while non-profit YMCAs and YWCAs were exempt from those taxes.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, however, said the YMCAs and YWCAs do public service work, while private health clubs don't.
Hensley handed out information that showed many supporters of Melcher's amendment received campaign donations from the owner of Genesis Health Clubs.
"The people who write the checks, end up writing the laws," Hensley said.
Melcher responded, saying, "It's a shame a taxpayer has to expend so many resources to get tax fairness." His amendment giving private health clubs a property tax exemption was approved 21-17. The underlying bill dealt with a long-running dispute over taxes paid by a concrete company.
State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, tried to exempt Douglas County from the amendment, saying that there were no YMCAs or YWCAs in the county. "I'm not going to let foolish special-interest tax policy unfairly shift the tax burden onto other commercial and residential property owners in my district," he said. But his amendment was rejected.