Hutch News – Seats in Johnson County to change



Published: 6/2/2008 10:52 PM | Last update: 6/2/2008 10:57 PM

Seats in Johnson County to change

Capitol Notebook

By John Hanna – Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA – Three senators’ decisions not to seek re-election have set off a scramble for legislative seats in Johnson County, which has long been a Republican stronghold.

Republicans hold all seven of the county’s Senate seats and 21 of its 22 House seats.

Sen. Nick Jordan, of Shawnee, is running for Congress. Sens. Barbara Allen and Dennis Wilson, both of Overland Park, are retiring from the Legislature.

Sue Gamble, a Shawnee Republican who sits on the State Board of Education, is running to replace Jordan. That has led Rep. Sue Storm, of Overland Park, the delegation’s only Democrat, to seek Gamble’s position. Also wanting to replace Jordan is Democrat Pete Roman, a management consultant from Lenexa.

Rep. Jeff Colyer, of Overland Park, has filed for Wilson’s seat.

In Allen’s district, the Republican primary will pit Rep. Tim Owens against former Rep. Benjamin Hodge, both of them from Overland Park.

Hodge resigned from the House so he could run for Allen’s seat, and local Republicans picked former Rep. Scott Schwab, of Olathe, to replace him. Schwab had held the seat but gave it up in 2006 to run unsuccessfully for Congress.

The candidate filing deadline is noon June 10.

Words on wind

The federal government needs to make development of renewable resources a priority, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told a national meeting. Sebelius addressed the American Wind Energy Association’s conference in Houston.

“Even with positive business climates in states like Kansas, there is a lot that the federal government can do to ensure the wind industry thrives nationwide,” Sebelius said in the remarks she prepared. “We need our leaders in Congress and in the White House to make renewable energy a priority.”

She said the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal to have 20 percent of the nation’s electricity produced by wind farms by 2030 is a positive step. But she says the time should be accelerated.

Sebelius also called on Congress to renew tax credits for wind power producers and said the U.S. needs a national policy on carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists link manmade greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.

In Kansas, Sebelius vetoed three bills to allow two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, which her administration has blocked since October because of their potential CO2 emissions.

Jobs outlook

Nurses, dental hygienists and transportation assembly line workers and supervisors will be in high demand in the next few years.

That’s the prediction from the state Department of Labor, which released a report Monday on what it expects to be the fast-growing occupations through 2014.

It expects employment to grow most quickly in the manufacturing of transportation equipment, including aircraft equipment. That category includes assembly line workers and supervisors. The department said employment there should be 46 percent higher in 2014 than in 2004.

Another fast-growing area is ambulatory health care services. The department said employment in such services should be 41 percent higher in 2014 than in 2004.

Legislative candidates

More than 80 percent of the Legislature’s members have filed for re-election.

The latest to guarantee themselves spots on the ballot were Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican, and Rep. Clay Aurand, a Courtland Republican.

Also filing recently were Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, an Independence Republican seeking a third term, and Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dwayne Umbarger, a Thayer Republican hoping to win a fourth.

So far, 30 of 40 senators have filed for re-election. In the House, 104 of 125 members have filed for re-election.

Prize unclaimed

Kansas Lottery officials are waiting for someone to claim a $5.3 million jackpot.

A winning ticket for the multistate Hot Lotto game was sold in southeast Kansas before Saturday’s drawing.

The winner will have a choice of an annual payment of about $210,000 for each of the next 25 years or a lump-sum payment of about $2.2 million after taxes.

Players pick five numbers between 1 and 39, plus a single “hot ball” number between 1 and 19. Drawings are Wednesday and Saturday. The top prize starts at $1 million. Twelve states and the District of Columbia participate in the game.

Fathers and sons

Two father-and-son teams of Democrats are running for public office this year.

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery planned to file Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. He kicked off his campaign more than a month ago and has been traveling the state. He is scheduled to be at the secretary of state’s office at 9:30 a.m. – and he’s bringing his son, Mike.

The younger Slattery, a 26-year-old construction firm project manager who lives in Mission, plans to run for the Kansas House, also as a Democrat.

The elder Slattery, 59, is seeking the right to challenge Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

Meanwhile, Mark and Dustin Hardison are running for separate seats in the Kansas House, also both as Democrats.

Mark Hardison, 55, lives in Mulvane and is seeking the seat held by the late Rep. Ted Powers, a Mulvane Republican who died May 13. He works for a feed company and plans to retire so that he can farm full-time.

Dustin Hardison, of Topeka, is the legislative director for the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

The 27-year-old is running for the seat of retiring Rep. Vaughn Flora, also a Topeka Democrat.