Tax checkoff bills in peril as confusion over amendment reigns in final day

03/24/2015 11:15 AM

A battle between the House and Senate over tax write-offs seems to be mired in confusion over services that Kentucky’s 13 rape crisis centers provide.

Senate Bill 82, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, would allow state residents to donate their income tax returns directly to the pediatric cancer research trust fund via a check box on the front of the tax return.

Wise, R-Campbellsville, says the bill is personal to him because his son Carter is a stage four cancer survivor after being diagnosed at 6 months old.

But an amendment added to the bill creating an additional tax checkoff for rape crisis centers could put both bills in peril — largely because of the Kentucky Right to Life Association’s understanding of what rape crisis centers do.

Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, amended SB82 after his legislation was never taken up for a vote in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Harris kept the pediatric cancer language in the bill and added and additional tax checkoff provision for the rape crisis centers.

Harris’ provision would establish a rape crisis center trust fund and allow individuals to designate a portion of their state tax refund to the account.

Margie Montgomery, executive director for the Kentucky Right to Life Association, said they had concerns the fund would direct money towards abortions or Planned Parenthood.

“Nobody could define for us what a rape crisis center is,” Montgomery said. “We want to know for certain the Planned Parenthood would be excused from this.”

Standards for the 13 rape crisis centers operated under the umbrella of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs are defined in state statute. The centers do not fund or offer abortions, something Harris said is way off-base.

Harris said he is a pro-life Democrat and his legislation has nothing to do with abortions.

“None of this money that will be brought in will be used to fund any sort of healthcare or treatment or anything at a hospital,” Harris said. “This is all counseling. They go with victims to their court hearings — they help them find sources of victim’s compensation funds.”

The Senate refused to concur to the floor amendment added in the House Monday night, placing the ball back in the lower chamber with only hours left on the clock for both bills in 2015.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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