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Kansas agency challenges law sale of Pizza Hut franchises

April 29, 2018 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kanas agency says lawmakers approved an unconstitutional bill that may result in the state paying back $42 million to a former pizza magnate.

The Kansas Department of Revenue has accused lawmakers of using a tactic attacked by transparency advocates and making other questionable moves to include more than one topic in the measure, which would violate the state constitution, the Wichita Eagle reported .

The 2016 law gives businessman Gene Bicknell a chance to fight a years-long dispute with the state over a $42 million tax bill.

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The Revenue Department’s argument comes as Gov. Jeff Colyer and lawmakers preach transparency values. Colyer and the Legislature have both tried to increase open government this year.

The department said the law violates the rule requiring bills to stick to a single subject.

″(The bill) was not the product of a robust discussion that took place in each respective chamber,” the agency’s filing read. “No, it consisted of the House’s Committee on Taxation, without public debate, stripping away SB 280′s content and replacing it with whatever legislative initiatives it divined as worthy of inclusion.”

The state will have to return the $42 million Bicknell previously paid Kansas in state and federal capital gains taxes on the proceeds from selling his company.

The Pittsburg native once owned the largest number of Pizza Hut franchises in the country. The tax dispute stems from whether he was a Kansas or Florida resident during the 2006 sale of his company, NPC International.

The state Board of Tax Appeals ruled last year that Bicknell was a Kansas resident. But the 2016 law allows him to challenge the ruling in state district court and provide additional evidence he wasn’t a resident.

Bicknell declined to comment on the case.