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Gov. signs bill to address Kansas housing shortage

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FILE(WAFB)
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 12:04 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has signed a bill to help address the state’s ongoing housing shortage - especially in rural communities.

On Thursday, May 5, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she signed House Bill 2237 to help address the state’s housing shortage with investments and incentives for residential development - especially in rural areas.

“By expanding access to quality, affordable housing, communities and businesses can better recruit and retain workers, families, and entrepreneurs in rural Kansas,” Gov. Kelly said. “This bill gives our rural communities more tools to spur economic growth vital to the economy.”

When Kelly took office, she said she created the Office of Rural Prosperity to address the needs of rural communities. This included the first statewide housing needs assessment done in nearly three decades. The survey highlighted the need for the expansion of affordable housing in rural communities.

“Living in Montgomery County, I know how important it is for rural communities to have available the tools needed to redevelop their historic main streets and provide new and renovated housing options for their workforce, seniors, and young families,” Representative Jim Kelly (R-Independence), Chair of the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development, said. “I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of a team with so many engaged and dedicated leaders who contributed to this bill. With this Mega Housing Package, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and the new housing investments made in this year’s budget, a huge step forward has been taken to improve the lives of Kansans for many years to come.”

Specifically, HB 2237 enacts the Kansas affordable housing tax credit act, the Kansas housing investor tax credit act, the historic Kansas act, and the Kansas rural home loan guarantee act. The bill would authorize residential real property appraisals in rural counties to be done without finishing the sales comparison approach to value. This would allow bond proceeds under the Kansas rural housing incentive district act to be used for the development of residential homes and renovations of certain buildings in areas considered economically distressed.

“The Wichita Area Builders Association, in conjunction with the Kansas Building Industry Association, appreciate the leadership shown by Governor Kelly and the Office of Rural Prosperity in choosing to undertake a statewide housing study last year,” Wess Galyon, President & CEO of the Wichita Area Builders Association, said. “That study identified a host of changes necessary to jumpstart the development of workforce housing that is so critical to the continued economic development of our state. We were excited to work with other stakeholders, the Legislature, and the governor to craft a housing package that eliminates barriers and creates immediate growth opportunities. When combined with targeted housing funding provided by state leaders, HB 2237 provides an opportunity for Kansas communities, large and small, urban, and rural, to attract new businesses by incentivizing the housing opportunities necessary to meet the needs of its citizens.”

Beyond that, Kelly said the bill expands eligibility for Child Day Care Services Assistance Tax Credits so more Kansas businesses can help employees with child care services.

“One of the major barriers to entry in the workforce is the incredibly high cost of child care,” Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa) said. “The expanded child care tax credit provides incentives for employers from C corps to mom-and-pop operations to ensure employees don’t have to choose between having a career and having a family. Policies like these are crucial to ensuring that all Kansans – and particularly Kansas women – have the opportunity to participate fully in our society and economy.”

The bill was introduced on Feb. 4, and referred to the Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development, which sponsors the bill.

“By taking advantage of these opportunities, investors, developers, and businesses across the state will play an important role in helping Kansas communities thrive,” Senator Rob Olson (R-Olathe), Chair of the Senate Committee on Federal & State Affairs, said. “I am proud to be part of the bipartisanship effort to help our rural communities grow.”

The bill passed the House under a final action vote of 107-16. It was then sent to the Senate where it was amended. The bill passed the Senate with amendments with a 32-5 vote.

“We’ve consistently heard from the business community that access to childcare is a challenge for their employees. We applaud the Kansas Legislature and Governor Kelly for enacting HB 2237 and providing another tool to help employers secure the staffing they need to resume full operational capacity,” Kevin Walker, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, said.

The Senate then voted 34-3 to adopt the conference committee report, which finalized the amendments. The House passed the same report with a 109-12 vote.

“The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce strongly believes a robust and quality childcare and early childhood education infrastructure is not only vital to ensuring folks can find and retain work, but is also critical for our future workforce,” Joe Reardon, President & CEO, The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said. “HB2337 will allow more employers to offer childcare for their employees which will help hardworking families stay employed and help drive innovative solutions to the childcare-shortage crisis facing our communities. It’s also a sound economic investment: studies show that, for every dollar spent, there is a return on investment of $13.00.”

Following approval of the legislature, the bill was passed to Gov. Kelly’s desk. With her signature, the bill will now be filed with the Secretary of State and printed in the upcoming copy of the Session Laws - which usually happens on July 1 - which will officially make the bill a law.

To read the full text of the bill, click HERE.

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