The House Republican leadership Friday introduced a resolution urging the filing of a lawsuit against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration regarding stalled development of a coal-fired utility expansion.
The measure, which has yet to be voted on by the House, seeks a challenge of “questionable legal decisions” by the executive branch in rejection of Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s application for an air permit to build a 1,400-megawatt plant at Holcomb.
“It’s a separation of power problem we’re facing,” said Senate Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell.
House members made no attempt Friday to override the governor’s coal veto, but might take a shot today as the 2008 session winds down.
The resolution takes aim at Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who said in April that override of the governor’s veto wouldn’t necessarily clear the way for construction at Holcomb. Parkinson said other avenues for blocking the project, including litigation, were under consideration.
“He came out and said regardless of what we do we don’t have any grounds to do what we’re going to do,” Merrick said. “It’s us saying there is a separation of power issue, and we’re going to take care of our interest and protect our members because we are an equal body.”
Sebelius distanced herself from Parkinson’s comments, but said environmental groups certainly would file suit if the Legislature forced the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to issue a permit.
The House resolution also takes exception to KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby’s use of emergency powers in state law to guard the health and safety of Kansans.
“The legislative intent was that be used for existing problems, not speculative problems that might occur in the future,” said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, spokeswoman for resolution co-sponsor House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.
Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said the resolution was under review by the governor. The House and Senate must concur to enforce the resolution, which can’t be vetoed by Sebelius.
The state’s Legislative Coordinating Council would be responsible for hiring legal counsel to file the constitutional challenge.
“This is ridiculous,” said Rep. Vaughn Flora, D-Topeka. “If you want to really make the governor mad, that’s the way to do it.”