Tyson brought county officials up to speed on a number of bills that have already been introduced -- or are likely to be filed -- during this session of the legislature.
Of particular interest to commissioners and several department heads was a senate bill involving the distinctions of equipment attached to buildings and whether that equipment is considered real or trade property. County officials and assessors have expressed fear that if such equipment as bank tube delivery systems, or large, expensive machinery attached to buildings is no longer taxable real property, counties would stand to lose much-needed revenue.
Tyson tried to ease commissioners' concerns Friday, telling officials the motive behind the bill is targeted more at clarification than change. She said the bill aims to clarify language, so neither business owners nor government lose out.
Tyson told commissioners they have been given misleading information on the bill.
"What the bill does is clarify the language of real versus trade property," Tyson said.
Tyson said there are special circumstances which would affect Neosho and Montgomery counties, but should not impact other counties in the state.
Both those counties have abatements that are expiring, or have already expired.
"One of the things we have added to the law is that if you have a tax abatement, it will be agreed upon what the property tax will be when that abatement is ended," Tyson said.
A fertilizer company in Montgomery County recently went to court and lost over a tax bill from the county, which they expected to be in the neighborhood of $400,000, but instead was $10 million. Because of the court's interpretation of the distinction between real and trade property, it decided the company was responsible for the $10 million in taxes.
A similar company in Ford County, with an operation about half the size of the Montgomery County firm, recently paid about $200,000 in taxes, Tyson said.
"This is to try and stop this from happening again," Tyson said. "This way a business knows if they sign up for an abatement what their taxes will be when they come off the abatement and the county knows, too."
Tyson said she has heard some extreme language from both sides regarding the bill, but the object is to keep real and trade property distinctions the same and make its wording more clear so that the court's interpretation may not differ from the legislature's intent.
Tyson also said she was against a mortgage tax deduction.
"I did not support it in the House and I won't support in the Senate," Tyson said.
She also said one of the more surprising bills being introduced this session is one that would eliminate sales and property taxes for businesses that run workout facilities. Tyson, who opposes the idea, said a small group is arguing that those businesses have to compete with nonprofit facilities, which are exempt.
"They say they want a level playing field," Tyson said. "But they knew what the playing field was before they got into business. That's not a level playing field; that's someone asking government to help them with their business."
She told county personnel that the legislature will be spending a lot of time this session on issues such as education, economic commerce, paycheck protection and guns.
She also said there also is a proposal to roll the Turnpike Authority into the Kansas Department of Transportation to avoid duplication of supervisory and administrative personnel.
Tyson also said she would like to see better policing of food stamps to avoid fraud. Ideas include a photo identification on the Vision card to reduce opportunities for recipients to sell their cards to other people for use.
She said that might put a burden on some people who can't get out to purchase their own food.
Tyson said other bills to watch include one that would issue work permits to illegal immigrants. Tyson called the idea "oxymoronic."
"It's illegal to hire them -- by the federal government -- but yet we are talking about work permits?"
Tyson said she has worked hard to get Bourbon County designated as a Rural Opportunity Zone, which would exempt new residents who move here from out of state from paying state income tax for five years and allow students to apply for partial forgiveness of student loans.
She also said any legislation this session that will help attract more people to Kansas is important.