Topeka The Kansas House Wednesday set up a possible veto showdown with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius by sending her for the third time a bill that would authorize construction of two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants.
Sebelius has vetoed the project twice because of concerns about carbon dioxide emissions. The House has been unable to muster the two-thirds majority to override her.
This time, supporters of the plants bundled the coal bill with other economic development projects in hopes of getting enough votes in an override effort that will probably occur on May 29, the official last day of the legislative session.
But that strategy didn't seem to work. The House approved the bill, 76-48, which is eight votes short of the 84 votes needed for a two-thirds majority in the 125-member House. The Senate gave its OK on Tuesday, 24-10.
The fight over the project, proposed for southwest Kansas, has dominated the 2008 legislative session.
Opponents of the project say it will harm the Kansas environment while most of the energy will be sold to out-of-state customers. Sebelius has also been highly critical of a provision in the bill that would strip the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from using emergency powers to protect public health and the environment to deny an air quality permit.
But supporters say the units will be among the cleanest coal-fired plants in the United States, and will boost the western Kansas economy.
"It's about jobs. It's about the survival of this state," said state Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy.
But opponents were upset at the bundling tactic, saying the bill violated the Kansas Constitution requirement that legislation must pertain to one subject.
Included in House Bill 2412 is a measure where the state would back $41 million in bonds for the intermodal freight hub - a giant shipping and distribution center near Gardner - and several other business tax cuts and incentives.
Among area legislators, state Reps. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, voted for the bill. Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Ann Mah, D-Topeka, voted against it.