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79-5a01. Public utility or public utilities; defined. (a) As used in this act, the terms "public utility" or "public utilities" means every individual, company, corporation, association of persons, brokers, marketers, lessees or receivers that now or hereafter own, broker or market natural gas inventories stored for resale in an underground formation in this state, or now or hereafter are in control, manage or operate a business of:

(1) A railroad or railroad corporation if such railroad or railroad corporation owns or holds, by deed or other instrument, an interest in right-of-way, track, franchise, roadbed or trackage in this state;

(2) transmitting to, from, through or in this state telegraphic messages;

(3) transmitting to, from, through or in this state telephonic messages;

(4) transporting or distributing to, from, through or in this state natural gas, oil or other commodities in pipes or pipelines, or engaging primarily in the business of storing natural gas in an underground formation;

(5) generating, conducting or distributing to, from, through or in this state electric power;

(6) transmitting to, from, through or in this state water if for profit or subject to regulation of the state corporation commission; and

(7) transporting to, from, through or in this state cargo or passengers by means of any vessel or boat used in navigating any of the navigable watercourses within or bordering upon this state.

(b) The terms "public utility" or "public utilities" shall not include: (1) Rural water districts established under the laws of the state of Kansas; or (2) any individual, company, corporation, association of persons, lessee or receiver owning or operating an oil or natural gas production gathering line which is situated within one county in this state and does not cross any state boundary line; (3) any individual, company, corporation, association of persons, lessee or receiver owning any vessel or boat operated upon the surface of any manmade waterway located entirely within one county in the state; (4) for all taxable years commencing after December 31, 1998, any natural gas distribution system which is owned and operated by a nonprofit public utility described by K.S.A. 66-104c, and amendments thereto, and which is operated predominantly for the purpose of providing fuel for the irrigation of land devoted to agricultural use; or (5) any individual, company, corporation, association of persons, lessees or receivers to the extent any activity or facility of such entity generates, markets or sells electricity at wholesale only, has no retail customers and is generated by an electric generation facility or addition to an electric generation facility that is actually and regularly used predominantly to produce and generate electricity utilizing renewable energy resources or technologies as defined in K.S.A. 79-201, and amendments thereto.

(c) The provisions of subsection (a) as amended by this act shall be applicable to all taxable years commencing after December 31, 2008.

History: L. 1969, ch. 434, § 1; L. 1971, ch. 294, § 1; L. 1981, ch. 375, § 1; L. 1982, ch. 395, § 1; L. 1983, ch. 314, § 1; L. 1986, ch. 371, § 1; L. 1999, ch. 126, § 3; L. 2004, ch. 171, § 4; L. 2009, ch. 97, § 5; L. 2015, ch. 75, § 6; July 1.

Revisor's Note:

Section was amended twice in the 1981 session, see 79-5a01a.

Section was amended twice in the 1999 session, see also 79-5a01b.

Cross References to Related Sections:

Application of section, see 79-5a12 and 79-5a13.

Law Review and Bar Journal References:

"Railroad Right of Way: The Real Property Interest in Kansas," Tim Pittman, 25 W.L.J. 327, 345 (1986).

Attorney General's Opinions:

Exempt property. Machinery and equipment of electric utility company. 88-158.

Coal and gas of public utility; system of taxation; classification; exemption. 89-85.

Public utilities; definition; constitutionality of excluding certain telephone companies. 93-142.

"Public utility" defined for the purpose of property tax classification. 1999-21.


1. Cited; state as a whole has no assessing power or authority with respect to the valuation of property for tax purposes, except for public utilities. McManaman v. Board of County Commissioners, 205 Kan. 118, 123, 468 P.2d 243.

2. Applied in upholding valuation and assessment of utility property by board of tax appeals under K.S.A. 79-5a04. Mobil Pipeline Co. v. Rohmiller, 214 Kan. 905, 926, 522 P.2d 923.

3. Applied; utility valuation and assessment of property by board of tax appeals upheld. Mobil Pipeline Co. v. Rohmiller, 214 Kan. 905, 906, 926, 522 P.2d 923.

4. Natural gas owned and stored for resale by public utilities determined tax-exempt inventory under Kansas Constitution, article 11, § 1. Colorado Interstate Gas Co. v. Board of Morton County Comm'rs, 247 Kan. 654, 655, 802 P.2d 584 (1990).

5. One-way radio paging service company not a public utility hereunder, therefore not subject to assessment for property tax purposes by the state. First Page, Inc. v. Cunningham, 252 Kan. 593, 595, 596, 598, 599, 600, 603, 604, 605, 847 P.2d 1238 (1993).

6. Trial court's denial of intervention by county commissions and appraisers in action involving statewide valuation and assessment of real property examined. State ex rel. Stephan v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, 253 Kan. 412, 417, 856 P.2d 151 (1993).

7. Cited in discussion of counties standing to challenge state's assessment of property under K.S.A. 74-2438. Board of Meade County Comm'rs v. State Director of Property Valuation, 18 Kan. App. 2d 719, 724, 725, 861 P.2d 1348 (1993).

8. Statutory procedures regarding public utilities right to appeal assessment and valuation of property examined. Colorado Interstate Gas Co. v. Beshears, 18 Kan. App. 2d 814, 815, 860 P.2d 56 (1993).

9. Whether BOTA's order denying pipelines tax treatment granted to railroads by federal law violates uniform and equal clause examined. In re Tax Appeal of ANR Pipeline Co., 254 Kan. 534, 547, 866 P.2d 1060 (1994).

10. Radio common carrier not considered a public utility for property tax purposes. In re Appeal of Topeka SMSA Ltd. Partnership, 260 Kan. 154, 155, 917 P.2d 827 (1996).

11. Nonfacility-based reseller, which owns no transmission or telephonic assets, is a public utility in the business of transmitting telephonic message and is to be assessed as a public utility. In re Appeal of United Teleservices, Inc., 267 Kan. 570, 582, 983 P.2d 250 (1999).

12. Section (K.S.A. 79-5a01) is facially discriminatory under federal commerce clause as it unduly burdens interstate commerce. In re Tax Appeal of CIG Field Services Co., 279 Kan. 857, 112 P.3d 138 (2005).

13. Taxpayers in the case were not public utilities as defined in subsection (a). Appeal of Director of Property Valuation, 284 Kan. 592, 593, 594, 598, 599, 601, 603, 606, 161 P.3d 755 (2007).

14. Railroad property subject to valuation by the state, not the county. In re Tax Protest of United Ag Services, 37 Kan. App. 2d 902, 906, 910, 159 P.3d 1050 (2007).

15. Held unconstitutional as applied to the out-of-state natural gas marketing companies and those taxpayers that are out-of-state municipalities. In re Property Valuation Appeals of Various Applicants, 298 Kan. 439, 313 P.3d 789 (2013).

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