TOPEKA, Kan. — An economic development bill that could bring a $4 billion business and over 4,000 jobs to Kansas was approved by the Senate on Thursday.
Senate Bill 347 would enact the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act, or APEX, which could add a significant boost to the Kansas economy if it is passed by the House and signed off by Gov. Laura Kelly. The senators approved of the bill 32-7 on Jan. 27 after it was amended.
If APEX is passed into law, it could mean that a $4 billion company, which remains secret for legal reasons, could come to Kansas. Many in the Kansas Legislature believe that it’s important to move quickly before the mysterious company moves to a different state.
Lt. Gov. David Toland, who is also secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, said in a recent press release that SB 347 will help keep young Kansans from leaving the state to search for other employment elsewhere, and it will help make the state more competitive economically with its neighbors.
“As we look to the future, Kansas has no business saying no to a massive economic development opportunity, especially in a period of challenging and evolving global competition for new businesses and jobs,” Toland said. “APEX would give us yet another edge over other states, and is worthy of the Legislature’s wholehearted support as it is considered this week.”
Sen. Renee Erickson, R-Wichita, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said that the bill would help Kansas businesses grow and thrive.
“This bill has brought a lot of discussion, a lot of disagreeing, what we here in Kansas refer to as cussing and discussing,” Erickson said.
“But I do think that there is one thing we all can agree on and that is, as things stand, Kansas has not been competitive in attracting businesses as evidenced by the fact that there have been 11 opportunities in the past five years and we have not competed for any of those. We must do something different.”
Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, who sits on the Commerce Committee, remained in opposition to the bill. She raised concerns at a past senate session over SB 347 saying that it would essentially be writing a company a check and leave Kansas in a position where they’d have to pay money back on income tax.
Watch the full debate preceding SB 347 approval in the Senate here.