Thursday news roundup: Six things you need to know

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Thursday’s are seemingly becoming the busiest day of the week, so here’s the roundup from significant – or interesting news items – from Thursday, starting with the sad news about Bob Dole.

Dole ill

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole – a Kansas institution – announced Thursday that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and was going to start treatment on Monday. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant heath challenges of their own.” Here’s more coverage of Dole from NBC News, Politico, Fox News, The Associated Press and The Washington Post.

Sports wagering

In a significant development, Gov. Laura Kelly is backing off demands that internet lottery games be part of a sports wagering bill. The Kelly administration had pushed for this in recent years over the opposition of casinos, which were afraid that electronic lottery games would look too much like their product.  Nevertheless, there are still more hurdles that need to be overcome – namely tax rates – before sports betting becomes real in Kansas.

Tax credit debate

The Senate passed a bill expanding a tax credit for small, innovative startup companies but only after a protracted debate marked by infighting among Republicans. The bill, which extended the life of the angel investors program for five years, passed with support from an unusual mix of Democrats and conservative Republicans. It now goes to the House where a similar bill passed with overwhelming support last year.

First-time home buyer credits

The Kansas House approved a bill providing a tax deduction for first-time home buyers.

The bill, which passed 119-3, allows Kansans to set up savings accounts at financial institutions starting July 1, 2022, to save for the purchase of a new home.

Contributions would be limited in each tax year to $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for a married couple filing a joint return.

The maximum amount of contributions in all tax years would be limited to $24,000 for individuals and $48,000 for a married couple filing a joint return.

The maximum amount in a first-time home buyer savings account could not exceed $50,000.

The bill was initially introduced last year by Republican leadership, but failed to advance when the legislative session ended prematurely because of the pandemic.

The bill was backed this year the Kansas Future Caucus, led by a bipartisan group of young lawmakers including Reps Tory Marie Arnberger of Great Bend, Rep. Rui Xu of Westwood,
Nick Hoheisel of Wichita and Rep. Brandon Woodard of Lenexa.

Judicial appointment

Gov. Laura Kelly nominated Sedgwick County prosecutor Lesley Isherwood to the Kansas Court of Appeals. Isherwood replaces Carl Folsom III whose nomination to the court was rejected by the Kansas Senate last year. She would fill the seat left open by Judge Steve Leben, who left to teach law.

Coleman admonished

A special House committee issued a letter Thursday, admonishing Democratic state Rep. Aaron Coleman, saying his conduct with young women was “unfitting” for a member of the Kansas House. The committee said it couldn’t take action agaist the Kansas City lawmaker because he was not a member of the House when he acknowleged allegations of online bullying, blackmail and revenge porn when he was in middle school