The Associated Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — A bill sought by the Department of Agriculture to end small headaches in regulating grocery stores and vending machines didn’t get much attention as it slipped quietly through the Legislature this year.
But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld and his staff noticed, particularly one section several pages into the measure. It said the secretary of agriculture couldn’t impose regulations more stringent than those imposed by the federal government, unless legislators approved.
To them, the section had a familiar ring. Something similar for the secretary of health and environment had been included in two bills Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had vetoed during the biggest legislative debate of the year.
Those bills allow two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, which Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican, strongly supports. Sebelius has criticized provisions restricting the secretary of health and environment’s power, saying they’re unacceptable to her.
So why, Neufeld wonders, did Sebelius sign a bill containing a similar restriction on the secretary of agriculture? He believes she’s being inconsistent, something her staff disputes.
The contentious debate over coal-fired plants casts a huge shadow. When people have points to make, public opinion to shape and votes to change, seemingly insignificant things like the agriculture bill become relevant.
And this year, the legislative session seems to be all about whether the two coal plants get built.
“You see other legislatures in coal mining states spend a lot of time on coal, but nothing like this, not day in, day out,” said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club’s national anti-coal campaign.
Legislators return Wednesday from their annual spring break to wrap up their business for the year. Responding to Sebelius’ vetoes tops the agenda for Republican leaders.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat who opposes the coal-plant bills, contends Neufeld is holding other issues hostage. Neufeld denies it.
The Associated Press
- State News
Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in Missouri
Gov. Jay Nixon today declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to severe winter weather that began early this morning, bringing hazardous travel and the possibility of power outages.
Party on? No local love in Princeton Review rankings
There's no love for Missouri Southern State University, Pittsburg State University or Crowder College in the new rankings issued by the Princeton Review. Which, given many of the survey categories, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Publicist: Andy Williams dies
According to a publicist, Emmy-winning TV host and 'Moon River' crooner Andy Williams has died.
Lions climb into share of MIAA men's basketball lead
Without taking the floor, Missouri Southern has climbed into a first-place tie in the MIAA men’s basketball race.
2.6 magnitude earthquake recorded in Oklahoma
The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded a 2.6 magnitude earthquake near Wellston in central Oklahoma.
No injuries or damage is reported.
Audit: $108,000 taken from Missouri Veterans Commission
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A former employee of the state auditor’s office embezzled nearly $108,000 while working as an accountant for the Missouri Veterans Commission, the state auditor alleged Monday.
Stacy Griffin-Lowery was fired by the Veterans Commission in March 2008 and pleaded guilty three months later to a misdemeanor theft charge. She repaid the state $17,665, the auditor’s office said.
But Missouri Auditor Susan Montee on Monday accused Griffin-Lowery of swiping an additional $90,192 by getting reimbursed for cash advances and purchases made on her personal credit card.
Race in Kansas’ 2nd District could heat up for GOP incumbent
TOPEKA, Kan. — A conservative Kansas legislator said Monday he will announce in a few weeks whether he will challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the Republican primary.
State Sen. Dennis Pyle’s actions in recent months suggest the Hiawatha farmer, who’s served in the Legislature since 2001, is running against Jenkins in the Aug. 2 primary. He set up a campaign organization in November and has a Web site featuring a brief video of him on his farm, asking viewers for support.
Oklahoma tea party leaders, lawmakers envision militia
OKLAHOMA CITY — Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.
Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force
- Missouri: Senate panel cuts $500 million from proposed budget JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Senate committee declared Thursday that it has sliced more than $500 million from Missouri’s proposed budget for next year — meeting a target set by Gov. Jay Nixon to bring it in balance.
- Kansas: Wichita-area casino in doubt after governor’s decision TOPEKA, Kan. — A proposed casino south of Wichita was in doubt Thursday after Gov. Mark Parkinson refused to grant its developers a regulatory reprieve. Partners in the $225 million Chisholm Creek project wanted to delay a state board’s decision on their plans.
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