Daily Archives: April 3, 2009

Senate passes abortion reporting requirements

The Legislature today passed a bill that would require more detailed explanations to justify late-term abortions, but it fell short of veto-proof majorities in both chambers. The Senate vote this evening was 25-11, two votes shy of the number needed to override a veto. The Senate then adjourned until a wrapup session at the end of this month.

The bill would require doctors to give more detailed justification for a late-term abortion. And the written information women receive 24 hours before an abortion would be amended to read, “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.

House rejects primary seat belt bill

TOPEKA — After a far-ranging debate this afternoon, the House rejected a bill that would allow police to pull over motorists for not wearing seat belts. The vote was 65-55. Senators had passed House Bill 2130 on Thursday. It would have established failure to wear a seat belt as a “primary violation” of law.

Under current law, seat belt violations can be ticketed only after an officer pulls the vehicle over for another reason. Under HB 2130, the “primary violation” would apply to adult passengers in the front seat. Minors already are required to be belted in at all times. Adults in the back seat would be required to use seat belts, but an officer could not stop the vehicle solely for that reason. Proponents of the bill contended it would save lives while also making Kansas eligible for as much as $11æmillion in additional federal transportation funding.

Coal plant bill on its way to the governor’s desk, veto promised

TOPEKA – The Kansas House voted 74-48 a moment ago to resurrect two coal plants for Western Kansas.

Legislation designed to eliminate the authority a state regulator used to reject the plants now moves to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius, a Democrat, has promised to veto the measure.

The vote is significant in that it’s 10 less than the 84 votes needed to override a veto.

Supporters of the project say they’ll use the Legislature’s three week spring break (likely starting tonight) to win over more votes.

It appears supporters are actually losing votes, however. When the House originally passed the legislation in February, the vote was 79-44.

Getting a veto-proof majority in the Senate has never been a challenge. Thursday, the Senate voted tonight 31-7 to send the bill to Sebelius – a higher margin than the two-thirds majority needed to overrule a veto.

The bill would strip the discretion a state regulator used to reject the coal-fired power plants in 2007. He cited concerns about carbon emissions and climate change.

Since then, a majority in the Republican-led Legislature has fought for the project, saying its jobs and energy are badly needed. Three times they passed legislation last year, and three times failed to override Sebelius’ vetoes.

This year’s bill, like its predecessors, contains modest provisions to encourage renewable energy and energy conservation.

Lawmakers will soon depart Topeka for a three-week break before returning for a brief wrap-up session at the end of the month. That’s when an attempt to override a Sebelius veto would occur.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. had hoped to build the plants near Holcomb, Kan. Most of the power generated would serve out-of-state customers.

– David Klepper

But will they get any hits?


U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, who is running for the Senate, announced today that he is launching a House YouTube Web site so Kansans can “know about the work I am doing on their behalf.”

His opponent in the Senate race, U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, set up a similar site nearly year ago. Mostly, the sites feature video of the congressmen making speeches on the House floor. In just under a year, Tiahrt’s site has gained 14 subscribers and has had 461 channel views. Moran started his site March 18; by Friday morning, it had 46 views. Both Moran’s campaign and Tiahrt’s campaign set up YouTube sites last year. By Friday, Moran’s had seven subscribers to Tiahrt’s four.

House approves increase to the state minimum wage

TOPEKA – The Sunflower state’s minimum wage will increase for the first time in about two decades to $7.25 in a bill passed by the House.

The issue has been a perennial goal for Democrats for several years but never gained traction. This year could change that.

The negotiated compromise for Senate Bill 160 passed 110-15 and now goes to the Senate where it is likely to pass and be sent to the governor’s desk.

Currently, Kansas’ minimum wage is $2.65. The state estimated about 19,000 Kansans would see their wages increase if the bill passes.

The increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Sebelius confirmation on hold while Senate takes break

Sebelius NominationIt’s back to Kansas for two weeks for Kathleen Sebelius.

It will be at least that long before the Kansas governor’s nomination to head the Health and Human Services Department will get a vote by the Senate.

After passing the budget last night, the Senate recessed until April 20. The Finance Committee held her confirmation hearing Thursday, but didn’t put her name to a vote.

She needs that, then a thumbs-up by the full Senate before she can set up shop in D.C.

– David Goldstein of the Eagle’s Washington Bureau

House sends late-term abortion bill to the Senate

TOPEKA – The House sent to the Senate a proposal that would require more detailed explanations justifying late-term abortions, but it didn’t get the votes needed to override a likely veto.

The measure now goes over to the Senate, which can accept the changes the House made to the bill or send it to a negotiating committee. Lawmakers are trying to wrap up their work in Topeka today and leave for first adjournment.

The bill passed 82-43. The House needs two-thirds majority to over ride a governor’s veto, or 84 votes.

In addition to requiring doctors to performing abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy to provide more detailed explanations for why the procedures were necessary on forms that are sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Senate Bill 218 also tweaks the state’s definition of a partial birth abortion so it reflects language used at the federal level.

The proposal would also would require that the written information a woman is supposed to receive at least 24 hours before an abortion include the phrase “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”

It would allow a woman or certain members of her family to file civil lawsuits against an abortion provider they suspected had violated the state’s abortion law. The law would apply to the woman’s husband or to her parents if she is under 18 when the suspected violations occurred.

Legislature possibly finishes up today

TOPEKA – Lawmakers could be finishing up their business in Topeka today and heading home for first adjournment.

A budget bill for 2010 is already on its way to the governor’s desk, which was the major item the Legislature needed to take care of.

Other big issues still floating about are a debate in the House on a bill that would allow to coal-fired power plants in Western Kansas, a final vote on a late-term abortion bill in the House then possible debate in the Senate.

A proposal to increase Kansas’ minimum wage from $2.65 to the federal level. The state’s minimum wage has not risen in about two decades.

Other than that, both chambers are simply handling committee reports and cramming through a wide variety of bills.

Even if something does not clear the Legislature by the end of today, lawmakers could have a second crack at it when they return for a wrap -up session at the end of April.

During the wrap-up session, lawmakers will have the opportunity to try and over ride any bills the governor vetoed.

They will also likely be making changes to the 2010 budget.

Most years, those change are additional spending for programs. This year it is like to mean cuts. In mid-April, the state will hear from the consensus revenue estimating committee which twice a year estimates the money Kansas will have for.