March 21, 2017 Legislative Update

The Kansas Senate beat back their leader’s effort to cut the spending, including spending for public schools, on their way to passing legislation to pay the state’s bills through June 30. The spending package which passed the Senate resembles the bill the House passed in mid-February. They both find the roughly $280 million needed to close the budget by delaying payments to KPERS and borrowing against the state’s unused funds. Senate President Susan Wagle attempted to introduce a two percent across the board budget cut into the bill but only six of her colleagues supported that. Now the House and Senate will conference and send a final spending bill to… Read More

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Benefits of Chamber Membership

To be honest, there are tens to hundreds of reasons to join the Chamber and each business has its own personal ones that are important. This blog post focuses on 3 reasons; one is the top reason, based on our member’s feedback, and the other two are less well-known reasons to join. Networking By far, networking is the number one reason that businesses join the Chamber. We all understand the value of communicating with one another, learning about what is going on in our community and working together. Another benefit of networking is partnerships. By participating in Chamber activities, you meet businesses that you may not normally run into, as… Read More

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March 14, 2017 Legislative Update

Nobody said it was going to be pretty. Last week, the Senate debated, dismembered and killed the governor’s tax plan. In the process, they sent their clearest message yet that they intend to pass lasting tax and budget reforms. The governor’s plan, it will be recalled, entailed a $1 per pack cigarette tax hike, doubling the tax on liquor, taxing passive income including rents and royalties, increasing the annual reporting fee for nonprofits and LLCs and freezing the bottom income tax rate at 2.7% (it was scheduled to drop to 2.6% this year). The plan would have raised about $180 million in the fiscal year, which starts on July 1,… Read More

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February 28, 2017 Legislative Update

Tax Package Fails Last week was a roller coaster ride in the legislature. Both the House and Senate had passed a significant tax reform package which would have raised the rate at which individuals pay taxes and eliminated the so-called LLC exemption, among other things. The speed with which the package moved through both sides of the Statehouse, as well as, the paucity of debate took many by surprise. By Tuesday, the bill was on the Governor’s desk and he’d made it clear he disapproved of the legislature’s attempt to dismantle his signature 2012 tax plan. All eyes in the Statehouse and elsewhere waited and wondered whether he would veto… Read More

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February 21, 2017 Legislative Update

The legislature passed major tax legislation on Friday which would essentially end the March to Zero and other tax reforms initiated by Governor Brownback in 2012. On Wednesday, the House took up a package of tax reforms. The House package ends Governor Brownback’s March to Zero income taxes and, in fact, raises the rates individuals will pay. The lowest rate individuals would pay is set at 2.7%; that’s .1% higher than it was scheduled to be in 2018. For individuals with income between $30,000 and $100,000, the rate would be 5.25%, up from the current 4.6%. A new third bracket is created for those earning over $100,000; their rate would… Read More

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East Topeka Learning Center

Why an East Topeka Learning Center?   The idea of a learning center on the east side of our community has been bubbling up for some time. At the Joint Economic Development Organization meeting on Feb. 8 community members shared how over the years there has been brainstorming, sharing, hoping and now finally the next step in developing the center. East Topeka Learning Center is envisioned as an impactful, education space for citizens to benefit from expanded educational opportunities in their own neighborhood. Where will the East Topeka Learning Center be located?  The location is at 2014 SE Washington Street, situated on SE 21st Street, between SE Washington Street and SE… Read More

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February 14, 2017 Legislative Update

Last Thursday was supposed to be the day the Kansas Senate met in a spirit of tough but earnest compromise to finally forge a lasting solution to the toughest question they will face:  how to close the looming budget shortfall. Down! Set! Nope. The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee had passed out a package said to restore structural balance to the Kansas tax code. The package raises the lowest income tax rate paid by individuals from 2.6% to 3.0% and the highest rate from 4.6% to 4.9%. It also eliminates the so-called LLC exemption, the highly controversial feature of the 2012 tax package which exempts income earned by pass-through business… Read More

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My Float Experience

Midwest Float is a new member of the Chamber, and as with most new members the Chamber gets the occasional question about what they do or who they are. Businesses their names make them fairly self-explanatory. However, with Midwest Float questions came flooding into our office the moment they joined. So what is Midwest Float? The simplest way I can describe it is a company that specializes in stress and anxiety release. What is it really? Imagine going into an enclosed hot tub, and the water is warm and very salty (like Dead Sea salty). For 90 minutes you “float” in this salty water and, if like most, you relax enough… Read More

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February 7, 2017 Legislative Update

Just over three weeks into the 2017 legislative session and there have been no major plot twists. The overarching concern of all is still the gaping difference between how much money the state is expected to bring in over the next couple of years and how much it will spend. Another Positive Revenue Report On a lighter note, the Department of Revenue reported that, for the third month in a row, the State of Kansas brought in just a little bit more revenue that it expected to. In January, tax receipts were almost $24 million ahead of projections. Some cite this as evidence that the Kansas economy is on the… Read More

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DTI Annual Meeting Highlight Business Growth, Future Developments

Sitting in the lobby of a former bank, over 200 local business leaders met to celebrate the successes in downtown Topeka at the DTI Annual Meeting last week. The Topeka Chamber, GO Topeka, Forge, Heartland Visioning and EMBD joined together in celebration of business growth in 2016, and  further learning about what is to come in 2017 and beyond. The two future developments announced that night highlighted what is to come for our community. First, the Menninger Foundation announced it will fund a sculpture for Kansas Avenue. Monies has been raised to fund a sculpture that is in the design stage, this sculpture will represent the Brown v Board decision. The sculpture… Read More

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