State Rep. Tom Sloan talks about coal plants
State Rep. Paul Davis talks about coal plants
Topeka In the biggest legislative showdown this year, the Kansas House failed to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a bill that would authorize two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants.
The House voted 80-45 for the bill, which was four votes short of the two-thirds majority needed in the 125-member chamber to override the veto.
The vote took more than two hours as legislative leaders, who support the plant, kept the roll open hoping to get enough votes.
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, and a supporter of the project, said of the outcome, "It is a sad day for the state."
But Nefueld said the fight wasn't over. "We have other options," he said.
Procedurally, there could be a reconsideration of the vote Friday or the Legislature could try to override a similar bill that also was vetoed.
In the most contentious issue of the 2008 legislative session, Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and two out-of-state partners want to build the coal-burning plants in southwest Kansas.
Sebelius vetoed a bill clearing the way for the plants because of environmental, health and fiscal concerns.
The project would annually emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is linked to climate change. And most of the power would be sold to customers in Colorado and Texas. The bill also stripped the Kansas Department of Health and Environment of much of its regulatory authority in permiting power plants.
Supporters of the plants say they will be among the cleanest burning in the country, and the $3.6 billion construction cost will boost the western Kansas economy.
On Wednesday, the Senate overrode Sebelius' veto 32-7, five votes more than the required two-thirds majority.
But the veto override attempt failed in the House.
Among local legislators, voting to override Sebelius' veto were Reps. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing.
Voting to support Sebelius' veto were Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Ann Mah, D-Topeka.