Democratic leaders praise Gov. Sebelius
TOPEKA -- Democratic congressional leaders this morning heaped praise on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as she prepared to deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Sebelius as "one of the Democratic Party's brightest stars."
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "She's a model of what we want to do in Washington."
Both leaders said Sebelius has demonstrated her ability to get things done and work in a bi-partisan manner.
Pelosi, Reid and Sebelius participated in a tele-conference in preparation for tonight's nationally televised speeches. Reid and Pelosi were in Washington, D.C., while Sebelius was in the Statehouse. She will give her speech from the governor's residence, Cedar Crest.
Sebelius said her speech will focus on issues that American families are concerned about, such as health insurance, economic development and the environment. She criticized Bush for twice vetoing an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
"Those are the kinds of underlying issues that speak to the economic challenges of families here in the Heartland and across the country," Sebelius said.
Closer to home, Sebelius said no "deal" has been reached in the continuing debate over two proposed coal-burning power plants in western Kansas. Her administration rejected the two 700-megawatt plants, citing concerns with carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.
But supporters of the plants say they hope to reach a compromise with her office that would allow the plants to be constructed.
Sebelius said "conversations" are occurring about energy needs in Kansas, but she didn't elaborate. She said Congress should start working on national CO2 standards.
Majority Leader Reid was highly critical of coal interests, saying they weren't being honest with the public.
"Coal is one of the things that is ruining our world," he said.
But Pelosi said more research is needed to develop ways to mitigate the environmental impact of coal-burning plants.
-- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at (785) 354-4222.