A bill aimed at helping rural Kansas counties in decline is on its way to the Governor’s desk. Approved last month by the Kansas Senate 34-5, the Kansas House of Representatives voted 102-18 last week to give its final approve to Senate Bill 198, known as the Rural Opportunity Zone Bill. “As part of our Road Map for Kansas to grow the economy, the Rural Opportunity Zone Bill is an aggressive policy move targeted to grow our shrinking rural counties. Like the Homestead Act, this offers opportunity instead of handpicking winners and losers,” according to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Senate Bill 198 designates 50 counties as “Rural Opportunity Zones” effectively providing an income tax exemption for certain out-of-state taxpayers who relocate to those counties; and authorizing the counties to participate in a state-matching program to repay student loans of up to $15,000 for Kansas students who move to those counties. Some Northwest Kansas counties designated are: Cheyenne, Decatur, Gove, Graham, Logan, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Trego, Thomas.