How they voted
On a voice vote, the Kansas House advanced House Bill 2014, a measure allowing construction of two 700-megawatt power plants. An amendment to essentially gut the bill and replace it with one supported by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was rejected 40-82. Here is how the area delegation voted on that amendment.
For the amendment:
- Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence
- Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth
- Paul Davis, D-Lawrence
- Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City
- Ann Mah, D-Topeka
- Don Navinsky, D-Easton
Against the amendment:
- Anthony Brown, R-Eudora
- Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie
- Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence
Absent: Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie
Topeka Legislators who support a plan to build two coal-fired power plants in western Kansas say they’re ready to take on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for a second year.
The chamber gave first-round approval to the bill Thursday, with a final vote expected today. This time, House Speaker Mike O’Neal said, they expect to have enough votes to override Sebelius’ expected veto of a bill that would allow Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build its plants outside Holcomb, in Finney County.
Sebelius’ administration has blocked the project over concerns about potential carbon-dioxide emissions, and the Democratic governor vetoed three similar bills last year from the Republican-controlled Legislature. The House, under different leadership, couldn’t muster the 84 votes required for an override.
“I hope to get to 84 and I expect to get to 84, whether it’s tomorrow or whether it’s when the time comes that 84 votes are necessary,” House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, said Thursday. “We want to send the message that this is strongly supported by this branch.”
The House gave the bill preliminary approval after voting 82-40 against an amendment that would have rewritten it to remove language to help Sunflower.
O’Neal said he didn’t see the amendment’s defeat as a test vote. But he did called it “a pretty strong statement against the governor’s plan,” adding, “you never know where some of those votes are going to shake out tomorrow.”
The measure also would limit the authority of the Kansas secretary of health and environment to regulate the greenhouse gases that many scientists link to global warming. Secretary Roderick Bremby cited carbon-dioxide emissions in denying Sunflower an air quality permit for the power plants in October 2007.
Many legislators, especially those from western Kansas, see construction of the plants as economic development. They also say Bremby’s decision made environmental regulation in Kansas uncertain.
Rep. Forrest Knox, an Altoona Republican, said the bill removes that uncertainty and “restores the rule of law,” a reference to Bremby’s decision having been made despite a lack of federal or state CO2 standards.
But Rep. Cindy Neighbor, who offered the failed amendment, called it “basically last year’s bill with some sections worst for Kansans.”
The Shawnee Democrat said the federal government plans to make grants available to states for energy projects and the bill “puts us at the back of the line.”
The bill ties the provisions overturning Bremby’s decision and limiting the secretary’s power to proposals designed to encourage the development of wind farms and other renewable energy sources.
It also includes provisions to set new energy efficiency standards for state buildings and encourage consumers to use their own wind and solar generators for power. Such renewable sources also would have to 20 percent of most utilities peak loads by 2020.
Sunflower wants to sell about 86 percent of the new power to two out-of-state electric cooperatives that are helping finance the project. The new generating capacity, totaling 1,400 megawatts, would be enough to meet the peak demands of 700,000 households, according to one state estimate.