House Passes 3rd Coal Bill, Shawnee County Jobs On the Line

By: Rae Chelle Davis Email
By: Rae Chelle Davis Email

The third bill attempting to approve two coal-fired plants for southwest Kansas is on its way to the Governor's Office. The bill is called The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. It combines the two coal plants with important tax breaks that would attract a wind turbine manufacturing company to Shawnee County providing up to 950 new jobs. There is a similar plan included in the bill for Johnson County as well.

Governor Sebelius is expected to veto the bill and that would mean the tax breaks go down with it. "There's a new plant being proposed. They need these tax breaks that have now been bundled up into the new energy bill and it's important that they have this to come to Topeka and build." said Rep. Harold Lane (D) Topeka. "It's kind of what they call a Hail Mary bill. It's one last chance to get it passed. To me, I can't compromise my vote. My vote's not for sale."

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld disagrees. "The bill also includes a mandate for new wind energy. If you don't create demand for the wind products they don't need the manufacturing plants in Kansas because there's no place to send it." Rep. Neufeld also says it's going to be tough for the Governor to veto this bill because of the jobs it provides Kansans.

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The latest legislative proposal allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas has gone to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius has rejected two previous bills allowing the plants and limiting the power of the regulator who's blocked their construction. She's expected to veto this bill as well.

The House approved the bill Wednesday, 78-46. The Senate had approved it 24-10.

Supporters tied the plants to economic development projects. They called their latest measure the ``Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.''

But the measure appears to have little chance of becoming law.

The vote in the House left supporters six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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