Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fight over renewable energy continues in GOP primary

June 15, 2014


Groups that are pushing for an end to the state's renewable energy standards are continuing their efforts in the Republican Party primary on Aug. 5.

The political action committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the state's leading business lobbying group, has helped recruit candidates to run against GOP members who voted against repealing a state law that requires utilities to generate a specific amount of energy from renewable sources.

"Our agenda includes a lot of items, but that is one," said Christie Kriegshauser, vice president of political affairs for the chamber.

One of those Republican incumbents feeling the sting from the Kansas Chamber is state Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin.

Jennings voted against repeal of the standards, which require utilities to produce 20 percent of their electricity with renewable energy by 2020.

The Kansas Chamber, Americans For Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council say the renewable energy standard interferes with the free market and gives wind energy an unfair advantage. AFP, an anti-tax small government group, blanketed the state with TV ads linking the renewable energy standards to former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama.

But Jennings said he voted to keep the standards in place because wind energy has been a boon to the Kansas economy.

"My position is that those standards in Kansas have helped unleash an industry within our state that previously didn't exist: wind generation," said Jennings, an attorney and former judge.

"Since we are such a prime location for this, it would not be prudent to roll our standards back. I think we are positioned at this point to be a significant electric exporter of wind," he said.

His opponent in the 122nd House District race is Stan Rice, also of Lakin, and director of government affairs for Pioneer Communication. Rice has received the endorsement of the Kansas Chamber's PAC.

Kriegshauser said the Kansas Chamber had been speaking with Rice "quite a bit." She summed up the Chamber's philosophy as limited government, pro-business and pro-growth.

When contacted by the Journal-World for this story, Rice requested that questions be emailed to him. He did not respond to the email after several days.

In Lawrence, state Rep. Tom Sloan, a Republican, drew a GOP opponent who also gained the Chamber's endorsement.

Sloan said his votes against the repeal of renewable energy standards, and against income tax rate cuts, which the Chamber supported, were the reason.

"The Chamber and AFP are interested in doing away with the renewable portfolio, but those of us who believe it benefits the state to have a mix of energy generation and helps rural areas will continue to support renewable energy," Sloan said.

His opponent Jeremy Ryan Pierce could not be reached for comment.

In southeast Kansas, state Rep. Kent Thompson, R-Iola, also drew a Republican challenger. Thompson voted against repealing the renewable energy standards.

"I had some strong local support that thought I should vote a particular way on that issue and then I lost that support," Thompson said.

But Thompson said he voted against repeal because he has two cement plants in his district that benefit from the construction and installation of wind turbines. "Every wind mill takes about 90 cubic yards to provide a base. That's basically a small- to medium-sized runway," he said.

His opponent, Chad VanHouden of Chanute, who has been endorsed by the Kansas Chamber, said he was too busy to speak on the phone when contacted by the Journal-World. He did not respond to questions emailed to him.

State Rep. Don Hineman, of Dighton, was another Republican who voted against repealing the renewable energy standards.

After his vote, mailers appeared in his district saying that the renewable standards were responsible for numerous rate hikes that were hurting senior citizens.

The cards came from a newly formed organization called the Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance. The group's lobbyist is Alan Cobb, who used to be the state director of the AFP, and the return address on the card was the Iola home address of Virginia Crossland-Macha, who has long been involved with AFP and is the sister of Ivan Crossland, the current board chairman of the Kansas Chamber.

But Hineman drew no opposition in the primary and he said that surprised him.

The chamber's Kriegshauser said the group is happy with the candidate field, but said the long hours and low pay of Kansas legislators make it unattractive for many potential candidates.

But Hineman said as he travels around his district he senses a different political mood than in 2012 when the Kansas Chamber helped recruit a number of Republican Senate candidates who defeated Republican incumbents in the primary to put conservatives in charge of the state Senate.

"Maybe the ultra right-wing of the party is not as active or effective as it was two years ago, but that might be wishful thinking on my own part," he said.


Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 11 months ago

Wind energy has created a lot of jobs in Kansas. It has brought development. I do not understand why the AFP is so opposed to something that is right except the profits go to the wrong bunch. Their rhetoric is pure hypocrisy. Do they suggest we simply toss the Siemens plants and the energy transfer technology training? Now that might seem to be a waste. Alan Cobb? Virginia Macha? Ivan Crossland? Reads off like a list of Koch Corporate lackey henchmen. The main goal of these people is to load the legislature with yes boys so as to really stick it to us. I hope that Kansas is sick of their lies and their failed policy.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

They don't like renewables cutting into the profits of oil and coal that's why they are against it. They could care less about jobs. I say we pack up all the people against renewable energy sources and ship them off to Iraq to fight the extremists, since oil is the only reason we even pay attention to that part of the world. Hey, Trabert, Christie Kriegshauser, Stan Rice, Chad VanHouden, Virginia Crossland-Macha, Ivan Crossland, Justin Hill, David Murfin, Mike O'Neal, Bill Pickert, Amanda Adkins, Jay Allbaugh, Jeff Boerger, and all the rest of the directors and Brownback and company, we need to fit you for army boots and uniforms. I assume since you're all conservatives you already know how to shoot, so we will just drop you in, and I'm sure in no time you will have Iraq under control, and we won't need any wind or solar power.

3 years, 11 months ago

 Just amazing.  Shows you just how much we are owned by the corporations.  Just incredible.  Who the hell really wants to live in a country like this anymore...there has been such a perversion of the moral and ethical behavior I was taught to ascribe to and furthers the downward spiral civilized advancement.  There isn't any question that currently democracy "By The People" has been legislatively assassinated. They no longer fear the citizens they per-port to represent.  I never thought that innovation would be treated like this in America.   We have lost it.  What made America special has been bought out and buried.

Lynn Grant 3 years, 11 months ago

All of the above. The current administration and the majority of the Legislature do not support their constituents. The state Chamber of Commerce and Republican party are lackeys for ALEC and big business.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 11 months ago

In the 19th Century American voters knew that a few of their elected representatives were paid by the railroads or mining companies, or in the case of one Senator back before there was direct election, simply bought the Montana state legislature to elect himself. But today the American electorate is bamboozled by the appearance of policy behind these bought politicians. First question to ask - who most benefits from their policies. Two, can we just elect the man or woman who runs no adds and just goes door-to-door? We could change this if we purposely voted against the candidate who ran the most ads. How could it be any worse?

Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 11 months ago

Interesting. The KansasWorks Board is or was a strong supporter of the Tech-Ed efforts with some of the community colleges to develop training programs for all the workers involved with the development and production of wind energy. I recall the Pratt had a big program to train up technicians for this type of work. Now Macha is on one of the local boards. Is she there to influence the allocation of WIA funds to not go to industry that AFP opposes? She was directly behind the mailer to not renew. Makes you think. The headline would read, "Governor appoints AFP mole to state board". So the other twist is that besides having AFP and ALEC and the KCofC buy up all the state legislators, the Governor will pack all the state advisory boards with like minded hacks with the proper thinking. It's a danged Al Capone syndicate.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 11 months ago

Renewable energy is a good and sensible idea, and should be pursued. But it is also a good idea to the black non-citizen president as the Koch Regime Republican party sees it, and anything that this president is in favor of, the Koch Regime Republican Party will oppose.

Kevin Elliott 3 years, 11 months ago

The GOP has lost its collective minds.

They used to have moderate conservative views and combined with moderate democratic views created a balanced America that reflected the people. I seldom agreed with Bob Dole but I respected him greatly.

Now the voice of the people, science, facts and even values have no place in the GOP platforms. It is madness.

Examples... global warming denial

Even though alternative energy is working in other countries, they pretend it can not work

Even though most of the nation, even most Republicans support waiting periods, background checks and keeping military assault weapons off the streets, they ignore their own constituancy to pander to the base.

They claim states rights, but turn the second a state allows something they do not like.

They holler for individual freedom and reduced government intrusion in our personal lives unless we want gay marriage or abortion or want to vote.

They create hurdles for low income people to participate in government based on lies such as making unsupported claims of voter fraud but give corporations more voice than the people

They demonize the poor and say they need to learn to survive without decent paying jobs, food or healthcare, but increase tax breaks and increase corporate welfare falsely claiming it brings jobs to the poor even though all economic indicators show that not to be true.

They fight a minimum wage increase while voting themselves a hefty cost of living wage increase

They play doctor and mandate medical proceedures that almost all medical associations say are either not needed or worse, dangerous such as no gay therapy in Texas.

The GOP has been usurped by the extremists and it is harming America.

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