Hawver: Veterans

Everyone wants to be helpful to injured veterans. That’s just part of being an American. Those troops, whether volunteers or drafted, deserve our respect for their service…and especially if they have been injured in their jobs.

Now, does that respect make a bill more likely to pass the Kansas Legislature? We may find out this session.

Two bills specifically refer to wounded veterans for their provisions; one would put a cap on property tax increases, another would create the “Veterans First Medical Cannabis Act,” which would legalize medical marijuana and give those wounded veterans first access (for 60 days) to that medical pot.

Will respect or deference to veterans boost the vote, maybe get the bills passed, or is special treatment of veterans a gimmick to broaden support for the bills?

Property Tax

The property tax bill? It would freeze property taxes for some Kansans 65 and older whose household income is $50,000 or less, own outright (no mortgages) homes worth $350,000 or less…and veterans with a 50% permanent disability.

Sounds like a target group that many would like to see escape ever-rising property tax bills, like everyone else in Kansas, but a group which is identifiable and for which many Kansans have empathy.

Medical Marijuana

The medical marijuana bill? It basically legalizes under an extensive, nearly exhaustive list of rules, regulations, boards and commissions the growing, prescription and use of medical marijuana.

Oh, and prescription of pot grown in Kansas for those who have medical conditions which can be alleviated by use of marijuana is for the first 60 days of the enactment of the law limited to veterans. Just veterans. After that, well, it’s a matter of what you can work out with your physician, nurse-practitioner or midwife. Yes, midwife.

No telling how this is going to work out for the legislative bills, and their beneficiaries.

The property tax lid? It is predicted to freeze property taxes for as many as 42,000 Kansas homeowners, saving them about $10 million in property taxes as their neighbors’ homes see their tax bills rising. No numbers on how many of those are veterans with a 50 percent disability.

Polling

The medical marijuana? There are polls out there that show more than 70 percent of Kansans favor legalizing medical marijuana. And, veterans have for years advocated for medical marijuana in order to help with treatment of post traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related issues, supporters of the bill say.

There’s probably a fine line somewhere on just when inclusion of specific beneficiaries of a bill helps it pass or when it doesn’t. Nobody has suggested a property tax lid for, say, law enforcement officers or schoolteachers or injured construction workers or notaries.

This isn’t a group of beneficiaries likely to be used as ornaments for otherwise tough-to-pass legislation, and it isn’t likely that they have been tricked or persuaded to become the centerpiece of bills that otherwise make pretty good sense.

It just feels a little…strange. And is a veteran’s 50 percent disability the right number for some medical reason or is it a provision that most people wouldn’t question or care to argue about?

Well, that’s how the Legislature works. There are towns where a large portion of the population has either served in the military or has family or friendship ties to veterans. There are also towns where rising property taxes threaten to force some retirees to consider trading-down or moving in with their children or to a retirement facility.

We’ll see where this goes.

 

By Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

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