Topeka House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled their legislative priorities that included no new taxes, approval of the coal-burning power plants and a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday.
Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the to-do list represented “a very, very strong consensus” of House Republicans, who outnumber Democrats 76-49.
Last year, lawmakers and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius fought all session over the proposal to build two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants in southwest Kansas.
Sebelius vetoed the project, citing harmful environmental effects of carbon dioxide emissions.
But O’Neal said that this year the House may have the necessary two-thirds majority to override Sebelius’ veto. He said the economic benefits of the $3.6 billion project made it more attractive during the current fiscal slump.
House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence, however, said he thought the project remained infeasible because of its environmental impact and the potential for regulations of CO2 emissions under the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Davis also questioned some of the GOP’s other priorities, such as creating a new state auditor.
O’Neal said an independent auditor would make state agencies accountable. But Davis said the state already has an audit division that works for the Legislature.
“The model we have is really the best one,” he said.
Kansas had an office of state auditor but abolished it in 1975.
The list of priorities of House Republicans also included:
• Prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for lobbying;
• Limiting the amount of state bonding;
• Requiring proposed county tax increases to go to a vote of the people;
• Addressing the need for more pharmacists, doctors and other health care professionals;
• Reducing administrative costs in schools;
• Encouraging development of renewable energy;
• Requiring photo ID to vote; and
• Supporting designation of Kansas University cancer research facility as a national cancer center.