The following column by former Kansas Representative Charlotte O’Hara of Johnson County is not yet available on her website, so I present it below.
The Massacre of Free Enterprise
By Charlotte O’Hara
February 28, 2013: The massacre of free enterprise in the State of Kansas.
In an unbelievable turn of events, both the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House turned away legislation that would have slightly eased the burden of alternative energy mandates, which currently requires 20 percent of Kansas electric power to be produced by alternative energy by 2020.
This 20 percent mandate will, according to Kansas Policy Institute, increase the average household electricity bill by $660 per year; commercial businesses by an average of $3,915 per year; and industrial businesses by an average of $25,516 per year. These are real dollars out of YOUR pocket.
The Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 82 for final action, only to defeat it in emergency final action with a vote of 17 yeas and 23 nays. This represents 15 Republicans joining with Democrats (the Senate is made up of 32 Republicans and 8 Democrats) sending a message that Kansas will continue to embrace crony capitalism/government control of industries through energy mandates, burdening consumers with ever increasing utility rates.
Kansas currently has the highest utility rates in the Midwest region. Our industrial rates are 36 percent higher than Oklahoma, 47 percent higher than Louisiana and unbelievably slightly higher than the State of New York!
Wind energy advocates state wind is the cheapest form of energy. If that is true, then let’s repeal the mandates. However, facts do not and will not back up wind advocates’ assertion as rates continue to rise, subsidies from the federal government continue to cost all taxpayers and property taxes are abated FOREVER on all alternative energy production plants/wind farms.
On the House side HB 2241, a stronger free market bill extends the timeline of mandates and caps it at 15 percent, was sent back to Utilities committee to die without debate on a 63-59 (there are 92 House Republicans) unrecorded vote.
According to leadership, Rep. Richard Carlson, who was chairing the House Committee of the Whole, purposely rushed the vote and ignored the call to record the vote to “protect our delegation from the wind energy industry.” Really? What happened to transparency, the right of the people to know how their Representative votes on ALL issues?
Calls from conservative leaders across Kansas to Speaker Ray Merrick requesting that he reassign the bill to an exempt committee were fortunately heeded. According to his Chief of Staff, the Speaker has reassigned HB 2241 to the Appropriations Committee, which hopefully will give conservatives time to marshal the votes needed in the House to pass this important piece of legislation.
One last question: Where was the governor on this important reclamation attempt for free enterprise in Kansas? Was he behind the scenes manipulating the process to reflect his strong support of green energy in Kansas?
Pray for our leaders to find the courage to stand on conservative principles while representing the good people of Kansas.
Former State Representative, District 27