Rodney Steven II, owner of Genesis Health Clubs, Wichita, KS, is optimistic after a bill passed in the Kansas Senate that would exempt for-profit health clubs from paying property taxes.

Senate Bill 72 was passed last month by a 25-14 vote and is now in a House-Senate conference committee. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Kansas Legislature are on break and will resume the 2013-2014 legislative session on May 8.

"We still have hopes that it can make it through this year through conference committee for the House side," Steven said in an email to Club Industry. "If not, we have next year to get it through the House as it is a passed bill on the Senate side."

For several years, Steven, who testified for Senate Bill 72, has been fighting local YMCAs in Wichita and the state of Kansas that receive tax-exempt status, citing the Ys have an unfair advantage over for-profit health clubs such as Genesis Health Clubs that pay property taxes.

The bill has ignited a debate on multiple levels. Steven, according to multiple media reports in Kansas, and his company has donated at least $45,000 to Kansas Senate Republicans during their campaigns over the past two years. Of the 24 senators who received contributions from Steven, 20 voted for Senate Bill 72 while four voted against it, according to reports.

"This is a special-interest carve out. Senate Bill 72 is the best bill money can buy," Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat, said in The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Hensley, who did not receive a contribution from Steven, went on to say in a prepared statement that Republican Sen. Michael O'Donnell, who received $4,000 from Steven and his company, "has been bought and paid for."