Coach Snyder for lieutenant governor? It could have happened

Could former K-State football coach Bill Snyder have helped lead the state like he lead the Wildcat?

Snyder, on Wednesday, told the Winfield Purple Pack Catbackers that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, offer him the lieutenant governor’s position in 2006, the Winfield Daily Courier is reporting.

He told the Wildcat supporters that he turned the offer down after consulting with former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts.

Eventually, Sebelius offer the position to current Gov. Mark Parkinson who assumed her duties when Sebelius became the Health and Human Services Secretary in late April.

The full story is available here.

Parkinson to be sworn in as governor at 7 p.m.

TOPEKA – Kansas will have a new governor by the time the sun sets tonight.

Shortly after the U.S. Senate confirmed former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, as Health and Human Services Secretary, she stepped down as governor and is on her way to Washington D.C., governor’ spokeswoman Beth Martino said in an email.

Gov. Mark Parkinson will be officially sworn in at 7 p.m., Chief Justice Bob Davis will administer the oath of office.

Lawmakers return to Topeka Wednesday to start a wrap up session where they are likely to try and override one of Sebelius’ final vetoes.

The bill would require doctors providing late-term abortions to provide more detailed justifications for the procedure on forms sent to Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The measure would also allow a woman or her immediate family to sue a physician providing late-term abortions in civil court if they think the procedure was illegal.

Conservatives were critical of Sebelius for her stance on abortion, including the most recent veto, and her ties to late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller of Wichita.

Is Brownback backing away on Sebelius?

By David Goldstein/Eagle Washington Bureau

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback could be waffling a bit in his support for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to run the Health and Human Services Department.

Congressional Quarterly reports that the Republican lawmaker plans to think more about his endorsement in light of her veto Thursday of late-term abortion legislation.

“It makes it harder and harder,” Brownback, an abortion opponent, told the magazine.

Neither the senator nor an aide would comment about whether he is reconsidering his support.

It’s tradition for legislators to embrace presidential nominees from their states, regardless of party. Only twice in the last 20 years has a senator from one party failed to back a home state nominee from the opposing party, according to Congressional Research Service.

One of those cases was in 2001, when Sen. Jean Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri, voted against the confirmation of former Republican Sen. John Ashcroft, also of Missouri, who had been nominated for attorney general.

In Brownback’s case, he is one of the Republican Party’s leading social conservatives and has been under pressure from that wing to disavow his support of the Democratic governor.

Though Sebelius has a reputation for working across party lines, she is anathema to abortion opponents because she supports abortion rights. They’re especially put off by her association with George Tiller, who operates an abortion clinic in Wichita and has been a political contributor.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele have called upon President Obama to withdraw her nomination.

The bill that Sebelius vetoed would have imposed requirements on physicians who perform late-term abortions. The procedure is outlawed except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or she faces serious medical consequences.

The legislation would have required physicians to file state health reports explaining the medical diagnoses that necessitated a late-term abortion.

Sebelius said she thought the bill probably was unconstitutional and would also “lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women.”

Senate Democrats need 60 votes to confirm her on Tuesday when her nomination is scheduled to be debated. They hold 56 seats. The chamber’s two independents generally side with them as well.

At least four Republicans, including Brownback, have committed to voting for her. The others are his Kansas colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts, an old friend of the Sebelius family, and the two party moderates from Maine, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. There could be others as well.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said Sebelius supporters have enough votes to confirm her.

Senate vote on Kansas Gov. Sebelius set for Tuesday

Sebelius NominationBy David Goldstein/Eagle Washington Bureau

The Senate will vote on Tuesday whether to confirm Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary.

The debate could last several hours. She’ll need 60 votes for confirmation; Democrats are confident she will be approved.

Senate committee vote on Sebelius set for Tuesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee has scheduled a vote for Tuesday on President Barack Obama’s nominee for health and human services secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The Senate Finance Committee will vote on sending Sebelius’ nomination to the full Senate. She’s expected to win confirmation despite concerns raised by anti-abortion activists in recent days over campaign money she got from a Kansas abortion doctor. Lawmakers want Sebelius in place quickly as they get to work on legislation overhauling the nation’s costly health care system. Sebelius is Obama’s second choice for health secretary after former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew in a tax controversy.

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

Coal debate planned Thursday in both chambers

TOPEKA – Kansas lawmakers plan to leave for their annual three-week spring break Friday.

First, however, they’ll mount one more attempt to resurrect two coal plants rejected by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Both the House and Senate expect to take up the contentious issue Thursday.

The legislation would eliminate the discretionary power a state regulator used to reject the plants in 2007. State Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby cited carbon emissions in his refusal to grant a permit to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build two coal-fired plants in Western Kansas.

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Senate oversight of lieutenant governor appointees fails as an amendment

TOPEKA – An attempt to have the Senate confirm future lieutenant governor appointees failed on a tie vote in the chamber on Wednesday.

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, was an attempt to provide more oversight to the state’s second-in-command, he said.

“The new governor can make his appointment. We should be able to look under the rock and check the qualifications,” Pyle said.

The effort is particularly timely. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, is undergoing confirmation hearings to be head of Health and Human Services with President Barack Obama’s administration.

If she is confirmed, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson would become governor and then nominate his successor. When that might happen is uncertain, as is who Parkinson might pick to fill his seat.

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Goodwin, Kinch tapped to help streamline state government

TOPEKA – The governor has named former state Sen. Greta Goodwin and former Rep. Elizabeth Kinch to look for ways to save money by closing some state facilities or changing the way they are used.

“To address the long term fiscal health of our state and the welfare of our citizens, we must ensure that government programs and facilities are maximized, ensuring our limited resources are used wisely,” Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said in the written announcement. Read More »

Buzz about Sebelius continues to mount

News organizations around the country are talking about Sebelius and the likelihood she will be nominated as health and human services secretary.

Check out this story from CQ Politics, which says Sebelius’ handling of Kansas’ recent budget showdown “could prove a telling test” if she is appointed by President Obama.

The story says: “Facing a shortfall to the state’s $6.4 billion budget, Sebelius signed a bill on Tuesday cutting about $300 million from the budget, but in doing so largely spared health programs like the state’s Medicaid services.”

Learn more about Sebelius and see the latest headlines about her by going to kansas.com/sebelius.