Parkinson to hold first press conference as governor on Friday

TOPEKA – Newly minted Gov. Mark Parkinson on Friday will hold his first media availability since being sworn in late Tuesday.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. This afternoon, Parkinson, a Democrat, will address a joint session of the Legislature at 4 p.m.

Parkinson assumed his new roll when former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius resigned to be sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary on Tuesday.

Sebelius’ farewell remarks to Kansas

There were no fond farewells last night from former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, was sworn in.

Sebelius was already off to Washington D.C. to be sworn in for her new job as Health and Human Services secretary, when Parkinson took his oath of office.

But apparently, Sebelius was thinking of Kansans and today her former office posted her farewell remarks on the governor’s website which still bears her mug. There is also a video available on the site.

Following is the transcript of her farewell remarks:

Over 34 years ago, a young Kansan returning to his home state to practice law asked me to marry him and move to Kansas. I said yes, and left my job in Washington D.C. to marry Gary Sebelius. And I have loved every step of this amazing journey.

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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.

Senate confirms Sebelius as HHS secretary

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services.

The vote, 65 to 31, came just before 6 p.m. in Washington D.C. after an all-day debate.

Both Kansas senators, Republicans Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, voted for Sebelius, a Democrat.

Last week, Brownback had said the governor’s veto of a bill aimed at tighetning regulations of late-term abortions made it harder to support her. Sebelius had vetoed similar bills in previous years.

The move means Kansas is likely to have a new governor when the Kansas Legislature returns Wednesday for a wrap-up session.

It’s hard to say if Sebelius could hand the reins of power over to Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson tonight or not – her office is keeping mum on its plans.

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.

Kansas Gov. Sebelius vetoes late-term abortion law

TOPEKA – The governor vetoed a bill that would have require doctors to give more detailed justification for a late-term abortion on forms sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Explaining the veto Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, said the House substitute for Senate Bill 218, included provisions that might be unconstitutional.

She singled out a provision that would allow a woman or immediate relatives to sue an abortion provider they suspected of violating the state’s abortion law. The provision also allows a district or county attorney or the Attorney General to bring criminal violations against a doctor.

“The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health,” she wrote. “While I agree that we should try to reduce the number of abortions, it cannot be at the increased risk to the life or health of women.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved the governor’s nomination as health secretary sending the matter to the full Senate where its stalled.

Abortion opponents have raised concerns about Sebelius’ strong pro choice track record and her ties to Wichita late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Gov. Sebelius signs Kansas minimum wage increase into law

TOPEKA – The handful of workers that make the state’s minimum wage of $2.65 will see their pay checks increase Jan. 1.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, today igned Senate Bill 160, which would bring the state’s minimum wage up to the federal $7.25. It’s the first time in two decades Kansas has increased the rate.

The issue has long been a top goal for Sebelius’ party but had initially found little support among Republicans. In her statement on the bill, the governor called the increase “long overdue.”

“While the state minimum wage only applies to a small sector of Kansas’ workforce, to them and their families, this legislation is critically important,” she wrote. “Our economy must return to its core principle that an honest day’s work brings home an honest day’s pay, and today we’re taking a step in that direction.”

Minimum wage was one of two high-profile bills sitting on the governor’s desk. Still no word on what she plans to do on a proposal that, among other provisions, would change late-term abortion reporting requirements.

Today is the deadline for Sebelius to take some action on the proposal – either sign it into law or veto it – or the bill could become law without her signature.

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved the governor’s nomination for secretary of Health and Human Services, sending the matter to the full U.S. Senate.

While she didn’t face questions about abortion during her confirmation hearings, abortion opponents have vocally opposed her for the position. They’ve pointed to her prior use of vetoes to block legislation changing abortion rules and her ties to Wichita late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

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.

No confirmation timetable, Sebelius says

TOPEKA – Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday she did not know what the time table was for her confirmation hearings as Health and Human Services Secretary.

“I am not presuming anything, I’m back here to do my job as governor and prepare for hearings,” Sebelius said after an appearance at a Kansas Citizens for the Arts meeting in Topeka. “The timetable is really in the control of the United States Senate.”

On Monday, President Barack Obama introduced Sebelius as his pick for the country’s top health spot.

In the mean time, the governor said she was “fully engaged,” in the 2010 budget process.