Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Coal plant talks may stretch into next week

February 27, 2008


— Three senators and three House members became less optimistic Tuesday about being able to finish their work this week on a bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

They had their second round of negotiations and made little progress after more than an hour of talks. They spent most of their time talking about a proposal to form a commission to study energy policy that the Senate approved but the House rejected.

Both chambers want to allow Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build the two plants outside of Holcomb, in Finney County. The $3.6 billion project has been blocked since October by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration over environmental concerns.

Both chambers also want to limit the power of the secretary of health and environment to set new air-quality rules.

Two negotiators, Rep. Carl Dean Holmes, R-Liberal, and Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, said the talks could last into next week.

Teaching issues

The Senate gave first-round approval to a bill under which teachers convicted of sexual battery against a minor or a student would be forever banned from Kansas classrooms.

The bill increases the penalty to a lifetime revocation, instead of the current five-year penalty, for such a conviction.

On a 21-15 vote, senators amended the bill to say teachers can't use obscene materials in a class unless they are approved by the local school board.

"There are materials that are required reading. Some contain material some consider obscene," said Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe. "It's material some find very offensive."

But Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican, objected to the amendment, saying, "What is one person's obscenity and another person's censorship."


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