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No wind break, but an end

Exactly four weeks ago from Thursday, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing a coal-fired power plant and extending the sunset for a tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. When Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill earlier this month, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities." On Thursday, lawmakers rejected a standalone bill solely extending the tax break. ...Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city.

2008 session concludes as Topeka delegation pushes for turbine plant

Exactly four weeks ago from Thursday, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing a coal-fired power plant and extending the sunset for a tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka.

When Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill earlier this month, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."

On Thursday, lawmakers rejected a standalone bill solely extending the tax break. This time it was Sebelius' chance to cry foul, saying the speaker blocked "the opportunity to advance significant economic development."

Lawmakers adjourned for the year after denying the bill during the ceremonial sine die session on Thursday.

Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The Topeka Chamber of Commerce has said the investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area.

The incentive was coupled in early May with a series of economic development projects and the coal plant issue in a last-ditch effort to allow the plant expansion, which Sebelius... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

2008 session concludes as Topeka delegation pushes for turbine plant

Exactly four weeks ago from Thursday, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing a coal-fired power plant and extending the sunset for a tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka.

When Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill earlier this month, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."

On Thursday, lawmakers rejected a standalone bill solely extending the tax break. This time it was Sebelius' chance to cry foul, saying the speaker blocked "the opportunity to advance significant economic development."

Lawmakers adjourned for the year after denying the bill during the ceremonial sine die session on Thursday.

Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The Topeka Chamber of Commerce has said the investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area.

The incentive was coupled in early May with a series of economic development projects and the coal plant issue in a last-ditch effort to allow the plant expansion, which Sebelius had twice vetoed.

The move was meant to persuade coal opponents to get on board. When the governor vetoed that bill, the tax break went with it.

On Thursday, area legislators pushed the House to pass a bill pertaining only to the tax incentive.

"We felt like this is an important issue for our community, and unfortunately it was held hostage in the economic stimulus package that included the coal bill," said Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, offered the motion to approve the bill, saying it earlier had been a "victim" of the coal issue.

"We believe this bill will help all of Kansas, not just Shawnee County," she said.

But following Thursday's vote, Neufeld said that bringing up new measures in the sine die session is out of line with normal procedure.

"The majority of folks came here saying we weren't going to do business, and they didn't want to do business," he said.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, criticized that logic, saying legislators "don't normally take hostage an economic development bill, either."

"This was a unique situation where lots of games got played during the session," Kelly said. "And (today) was an opportunity to move forward on an important economic development."

Kelly, Hensley and the rest of the 12-member Shawnee County delegation signed a May 27 letter to Neufeld urging his support for the measure. All 12 voted for the bill.

Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, voted for the original bill, including the tax break and coal plant addition, but said "no" Thursday to the standalone proposal.

"There weren't enough votes to overturn it, and I wasn't going to get involved in the gamesmanship," Tafanelli said.

The 47-49 vote was close to a majority of those legislators present but far from the 63-vote majority needed for passage.


Source: http://www.cjonline.com/sto...

MAY 30 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/15246-no-wind-break-but-an-end
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