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.

Governor reappoints Wichitans to state councils and panel

TOPEKA – Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has reappointed two Wichita residents and a Derby woman to two state councils and an advisory panel.

Travis Francis, Wichita, has been reappointed to a three-year term on the Athletic Trainers Council. This council licenses and monitors athletic trainers in the state of Kansas.

Gary Mason, Wichita, has been reappointed to serve a two-year term on the Compliance Advisory Panel to the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. This panel renders advisory opinions concerning the effectiveness of the small business stationary source technical and environmental compliance assistance program; makes periodic reports to the administrator; and reviews and comments on proposed regulations.

Beverly Urmey, Derby, has also been reappointed to three-year terms on the Respiratory Care Council. This council conducts examinations and registrations of applicants in the field of respiratory therapy.

WSU student appointed to state Hispanic commission

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, appointed Wichita State University student Paul Cruz to a commission addressing Hispanic affairs.

Below is the press release:

Promoting statewide coordination in addressing Hispanic affairs, Governor Kathleen Sebelius has made one appointment to the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission (KHLAAC).

“To move our state forward, it’s important that all voices are heard and all Kansans are represented. I’m thankful for the dedication of this commission in serving our state and celebrating our cultures,” Sebelius said.

Paul Cruz, Wichita, currently attends Wichita State University and is a member of the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. Cruz will represent the 4th Congressional district while serving a three-year term on the board.

The KHLAAC is a seven member body appointed by the governor of Kansas. The commission serves as a liaison for the Kansas Hispanic and Latino Community and the Office of the Governor. The commission addresses public policy concerns primarily in the areas related to education, health and business.

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.

Parkinson ready to lead Kansas, but won’t run in 2010

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TOPEKA – The state’s future governor, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, acknowledged Tuesday that most Kansans did not know who he is but added “I want them to be assured that I’m ready to serve when that time comes.”

Parkinson, a Democrat, was elected to the office with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2005 and is poised to finish out her term. Monday, President Barack Obama announced Sebelius as his pick for Health and Human Services secretary.

Parkinson said he did not know what timeline the nomination process would follow. “It’s entirely possible that the governor could remain as governor until the end of the session,” he said.

He also reiterated a prior statement that he would not run for governor in 2010 and said there have been no formal discussions with anyone about who would succeed him as the lieutenant governor.

Because Sebelius had been consider as both a vice presidential candidate and a potential cabinet pick in the fall, Parkinson said he had worked closely with the budget office as it crafted this year’s proposal.

“The priorities that the governor has are my priorities,” he said adding that he thought the transition would be “seamless.”

Sebelius will be governor until she is confirmed, Parkinson says

PARKINSON_MH6TOPEKA – Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said he would remain in his current position until the governor is confirmed as the Health and Human Services Secretary.

“In the interim, I will continue to be focused on the budget and other issues facing our Great State,” Parkinson said in a written statement. “We know that Kansans are facing the most challenging economy in our lifetimes. Our commitment is to continue to do everything we can to move our state forward.”

President Barack Obama announced Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, as his nominee for country’s top health slot early Monday afternoon following weeks of speculation.

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Sebelius nomination for HHS is official

Read the White House press release below.

President Barack Obama officially announced that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is his pick for Health and Human Services secretary.

“And today, I am proud to announce key members of my team who will be critical to that effort: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for my Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Ann DeParle as Director of the White House Office for Health Reform,” the release said.

Sebelius, a Democrat, was an early supporter of Obama. Read More »

Sebelius to be introduced as HHS secretary this afternoon

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama will announce Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, as the Health and Human Services secretary this afternoon.

For more click here.

Coal bill clears the House

TOPEKA – The Kansas House this morning passed legislation that, among other things, seeks to resurrect plans for two western Kansas coal plants.

The vote was 79-44 – short of the 84 votes needed to override a promised veto by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

But the Republicans pushing the legislation – HB 2014 – say not to read too much into that. They’ve got weeks, probably, to shore up votes, and there are a lot of variables in play. Here are two:

1) Will Sebelius even be around to veto the bill? If she departs for Washington, will her successor, Mark Parkinson, be able to hold plant opponents together?

2) Will the bill get caught up with other measures, like it did last year, with lawmakers offering support for the coal plants in exchange for help on other bills?

The Senate, meanwhile, has similar legislation. Passage in the Senate is all but assured, and it’s likely the voters are there for an override attempt (they were last year anyway).

The debate, recall, centers on whether the state’s top regulator had the authority to block Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s plans for two coal-fired power plants when the plants meet all existing environmental rules. The legislation would strip the discretion KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby used when he rejected the plants. He cited the plants’ carbon emissions as the reason.

The bill also contains provisions designed to make it easier for citizens to use their own solar panels and wind turbines to generate power, mandates renewable energy percentages for utilities, and calls for stricter state building energy codes.

Stay tuned. The debate over these coal plants dominated last year’s session, and it’s not going away this year.

– David Klepper, The Kansas City Star

Sebelius says coal bill is “DOA”

TOPEKA – A coal bill that the House of Representatives could debate Thursday doesn’t stand a chance with the governor.

“The coal bill is DOA with me,” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday.

The proposal House Bill 2014, would allow the construction of two coal-fired power plants in Holcomb and block the state’s top regulator, Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby, of the authority to regulate carbon dioxide.

In 2007, Bremby blocked permits the 1,400 megawatts expansions by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. citing concerns over the carbon dioxide the plants would release.

“We don’t want to go back to the want, we want to be leaders in the future,” she said.

Sebelius vetoed three similar bills in the 2008 session. She said the current effort would be a “step backwards” especially with the federal stimulus package which includes $30 billion for green initiatives and energy efficiency.