Kansas views on Westar settlement, new carbon rules, food stamp cuts, university visits

Westar settlement – Kansas consumers apparently do have a voice after all. Westar Energy earlier this year asked for its 16th rate increase since 2006 and, based on its successful track record with the Kansas Corporation Commission, likely saw little reason to doubt its latest request would find the same easy path to approval. Customers, however, attended a series of meetings around the state to protest the proposed rate hike, sent in letters to the Kansas Corporation Commission and otherwise made their concerns known. The result is a settlement agreement that still will see Westar customers’ utility bills increase by about $3 a month, but far less than the $7.50 a month Westar originally had proposed. Moreover, the settlement, which still awaits KCC approval, means those residential customers won’t unfairly shoulder more of Westar’s rates while watching rates for large companies decrease.

Hutchinson News

Carbon rules – New Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon pollution by future coal-burning generating plants could be the straw that finally breaks the back of a proposed $2.2 billion expansion of Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s facility at Holcomb. If that proves to be the case, Kansas stands to be a loser. Its economy would have benefited throughout the construction process and from the permanent jobs created in southwest Kansas when the additional generating capacity was ready for use.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Food stamp cuts – Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and others in the entitlement-slash-and-burn faction need to step back and truly assess what’s going on in the country. The Great Recession was at its peak in 2008. The unemployment rate has barely nudged down to 7.3 percent. Jobs are disappearing in the U.S. at an alarming rate. We’ve got large problems facing the country that require rational debate and thoughtful solutions. Symbolic legislation doesn’t do anything to resolve issues.

Hays Daily News

Davis – Democrats in Kansas now have a challenger to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Paul Davis, minority leader of the Kansas House and a Lawrence attorney, said he will wage a campaign focusing on such priorities as educating children, rewarding hard work, building a strong middle class and cooperating with one another. While such ideas should resonate with all Kansans, Davis faces an uphill battle in attempting to unseat a Republican governor in a state where registered Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats – even at a time when the sitting governor has pursued strategies and policies too questionable and controversial for many in his own party to embrace.

Garden City Telegram

University visits – About the only question that seems to be missing from the list Kansas legislators have submitted to the state universities they plan to visit next month is: “How many staff hours did it take to complete this questionnaire – and at what cost to taxpayers?” Still, we hope officials at the University of Kansas and the KU Medical Center will do their best to respond to all of the legislators’ questions, and that the legislators will appreciate that effort and be open to information that may change their thinking on certain issues.

Lawrence Journal-World