Archive for Friday, October 30, 2009

Statehouse Live: Flint Hills beauty defeats wind farms; Parkinson says tax increase may be needed; governor names Thornton, defends Kerr in commerce controversy

October 30, 2009, 10:37 a.m. Updated October 30, 2009, 4:46 p.m.


— In a case pitting the beauty of the Flint Hills against mammoth wind turbines, the Flint Hills won the first legal round before the Kansas Supreme Court.

The court ruled Friday in favor of a zoning regulation in Wabaunsee County that prohibits commercial wind farms.

The resolution states that commercial wind farms “would be incompatible with the rural, agricultural, and scenic character of the county.”

Several landowners, who had entered into contracts for wind farm development, sued the Wabaunsee Board of County Commissioners, saying the prohibition was unreasonable.

But the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the commissioners.

The court, however, left open several other issues for further arguments. Those include whether the zoning ordinance represents a “taking” of property rights without just compensation and whether it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A second round of oral arguments is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Related document

State Supreme Court ruling on wind farms ( .PDF )

11:07 a.m.

Gov. Mark Parkinson said Friday the state’s revenue crunch may force him to propose a tax increase.

“We’re getting very close to that point,” he said during a news conference.

He said four rounds of budget cuts this year have been painful. He said further cuts in the 5 percent to 10 percent range would be “crippling,” adding that he doesn’t want to do that.

Parkinson, a Democrat, said sufficient revenue is needed to keep basic state functions operating.

Republican leaders who control the Legislature have said they would oppose tax increases.

10:37 a.m.

William Thornton of Atchison speaks at a news conference Friday in the Capitol. Thornton was named by Gov. Mark Parkinson as acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce to replace Dave Kerr who is going to the Missouri economic development agency.

William Thornton of Atchison speaks at a news conference Friday in the Capitol. Thornton was named by Gov. Mark Parkinson as acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce to replace Dave Kerr who is going to the Missouri economic development agency.

Gov. Mark Parkinson on Friday named William Thornton acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce and vigorously defended the departing secretary, Dave Kerr, who has been accused of unethical conduct by Republicans.

Parkinson described Kerr as a person with the highest integrity and ethics.

When asked to respond to GOP criticism, Parkinson, a Democrat, said those critics need to be more civilized.

On Thursday, it was announced that Kerr would be leaving the Kansas Department of Commerce to be director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

House Republicans cried foul, saying the switch comes at a time when Kerr was negotiating on a project that would bring Cerner Corp. and the Kansas City Wizards soccer team from Missouri to Kansas City, Kan.

The GOP lawmakers questioned whether Kerr was doing all he could to make the deal happen.

“This is the most unethical thing I have ever heard of,” said House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell. “While the Legislature is out of session, our Secretary of Commerce is negotiating for his own advancement while holding one of the largest economic development opportunities in Kansas’ history ransom. How can we be sure Kansas has made the best offer to secure the Cerner expansion?”

But Parkinson said the state’s offer to Cerner was put together before the Missouri job offer was made to Kerr. When Kerr was approached about the Missouri job, Parkinson said Kerr asked him if he should abstain from discussions on deals that involved trying to lure Missouri companies, but Parkinson said he told him that would not be necessary.

Parkinson said proof of Kerr’s allegiance to Kansas was that Kerr was the main advocate for trying to lure Cerner to Kansas City, Kan. The state has made an offer, but no word has come yet from Cerner on whether to accept it.

Meanwhile, Thornton, 57, comes to the commerce department after having worked in the private sector for MGP Ingredients and Hallmark Cards. He is also an attorney and member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

Thornton will resign from the regents. Both he and Parkinson said Thornton’s new job as secretary will dominate his time.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

The Kansas legislature is not attractive to new industry. Face it.

prairierose54 8 years, 7 months ago

cjonline also stated that this guy's been unemployed since June.

You'd think with all those qualifications he have a job. The state of Kansas to the rescue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's this gonna cost per year?

Scott Drummond 8 years, 6 months ago

"The sun uses nuclear power. Why isn't used here? Technology works. Imagine how efficient the system would be by now had it not been stopped by the people that want government healthcare?"

Educated people understand, but for the republican wingers in the crowd, the problem is what to do with the nuclear waste. Most of the country refuses to have disposal sites in their backyard and, given the horrible consequences of doing the storage wrong, one can understand. Barry, nuclear power does work on the sun. Not much survives anywhere near it, however. Can we store our nuclear waste at your house?

RogueThrill 8 years, 6 months ago

The sun uses nuclear fusion. If you can figure out how to bring that to Kansas you will be a truly rich man.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.