Legislation geared toward alleviating the financial burden of property taxes on Kentucky’s veteran service organizations is quickly gaining momentum and support among state legislators.

On Wednesday, District 72 Republican Rep. Matthew Koch introduced House Bill 36 to members of the House Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee. Koch, joined by newly appoint Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Keith Jackson and Joint Executive Council of Veterans Organizations Legislative Committee Chair Larry Arnett, addressed the committee about the importance of the bill. After roughly 30 minutes, the bill passed committee unanimously and gained eight sponsors, said Chuck Kucera, Owensboro Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 696 adjutant.

HB 36, if passed, would create a new section in KRS Chapter 132 to exempt veteran service organizations from ad valorem taxation if more than 50% of the organization’s annual net income is expended on behalf of veterans and other charitable causes, and amend KRS 132.010 to define veteran service organizations. The new rules would apply to property assessed on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

Aside from Koch, according to the Kentucky Legislature website, District 82 Republican Rep. Chris Fugate, District 78 Republican Rep. Mark Hart, District 96 Democratic Rep. Kathy Hinkle, District 14 Republican Rep. Scott Lewis, District 58 Republican Rep. Rob Rothenburger, District 10 Democratic Rep. Dean Schamore, District 65 Democratic Rep. Buddy Wheatley and District 73 Republican Rep. Les Yates have jumped on board to support the bill.

In early October, as part of the 2019 Daviess County PVA office’s valuation, the VFW 696 saw its building at 311 W. Veterans Blvd. more than triple in value, from $525,000 in 2015 to roughly $1.8 million in 2019; resulting in a $27,052 property tax bill. The valuation and resulting bill were devastating to the organization.

Now that the bill has cleared committee, it will have to make its rounds through the House into the Senate. How quickly that happens is still up in the air, Kucera said.

“In the House, there are two ways it could go,” he said. “Because it will cost the state $25,000, according to the legislative research committee, it may go to the appropriations and revenue committee. Hopefully, because the impact is so minor, it will go straight to the House floor for a vote. I would say that is a 50/50. If it gets through the House, it will go to the Senate and I don’t know if they will have committee hearings or go ahead and vote on it. We aren’t sure which path it will take. So far, it is looking really good and the fact that we have those sponsors is fantastic.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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