Lobbyists spend more than $1 million

? Lobbyists have reported spending more than $1.1 million to influence legislators for the second consecutive year, largely because of a fight over two proposed coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

Last year, lobbyists reported spending nearly $1.17 million. The figure through April of this year was just under $1.11 million. The figures were compiled by the state Governmental Ethics Commission.

In both years, the spending has been driven by media advertising and other campaigns designed to put public pressure on lawmakers. Lobbyists said they spent $612,000 on those items in 2007 and $700,000 during the first four months of this year.

“We’ve just not seen those kinds of expenditures in those categories before,” Carol Williams, the commission’s executive director, said Thursday.

The leading spender so far this year is Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which reported spending $181,000 through April.

Sunflower wants to build the two plants in Finney County near Holcomb. The project has been blocked by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration since October, over their potential carbon dioxide emissions.

Legislators passed three bills to allow the power plants, but Sebelius vetoed them all and lawmakers couldn’t muster enough votes to override her.