What is in this article?:
- Health Club Property Tax Break Bill Rejected by Kansas House of Representatives
- Opposing Views of the Bill
The bill had the support of Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven and other for-profit club operators from the state of Kansas and the industry.
Opposing Views of the Bill
The bill ignited opposing views from those outside the Kansas Legislature. In an editorial that recapped the end of the Kansas legislative session, The Kansas City Star wrote the Legislature "thankfully rejected some horrible ideas" and called the property tax break to gyms and health clubs "a ridiculous proposal."
Many readers of the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital-Journal who had been following Steven's quest for a property tax break the past two years also took exception to the fact that Steven spent a reported $67,000 in contributions to about 70 members of the Kansas legislature. Ferris disagrees with those who asserted that Steven was "buying votes."
"Rodney makes his donations based on his philosophical beliefs," Ferris says. "What Rodney donated was a drop in the bucket compared to what companies and individuals donate in Kansas on a regular basis. I know a lot of people like to draw a correlation because, frankly, they're very narrow-minded and ignorant. Anybody that draws a correlation between a $1,000 donation or a $500 donation and a vote is ignorant."
Lobbying has become a magnified issue in Kansas recently. Last month, the Capital-Journal reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been looking into a lobbying group called Parallel Strategies and that firm's ties to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. (The firm's owners had previously worked for Brownback in some capacity.) The Kansas City Star followed up with its own story on Sunday, reporting the FBI was looking into "pay-for-play" lobbying allegations.
Ferris told Club Industry that Steven is not a client of Parallel Strategies. Ferris added that one of the principals of Parallel Strategies also works with another lobbying group that does have a contract with the Kansas Health and Fitness Association.
"There are a couple of people at Parallel Strategies that we may interview and use as lobbyists because they're good people," Ferris says.