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Kansas Lawmakers Vote to Limit Governor in Docking Building Project

Governor Sam Brownback speaking last year. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansas lawmakers have voted to limit Governor Sam Brownback’s authority to demolish the Docking office building in downtown Topeka and build a new utility plant for state offices. Plans have been in the works to demo or rehab the Docking facility. The bill says any new moves would require legislative approval.

That comes after the governor entered a $20 million agreement for a new utility plant without the consent of lawmakers. He’s since decided to back out of the plan.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce voted in favor of the bill, but pushed back against some claims that the governor’s administration dodged legislative oversight. He says lawmakers didn’t have oversight.

“I’m somewhat confused how the Department of Administration could circumvent, either intentionally or unintentionally, something that does not exist,” says Bruce.

Democratic Senator Laura Kelly says the financing method is the problem. The contract wasn't funded with bonds and thus avoided the legislative approval required for bonding.

"I think that it was not a case of misinformation. I think it was an intentional skirting of the law,” says Kelly.

Lawmakers say the bill allows the state to terminate the governor’s utility plant contract in the most efficient way, although there could still be costs for doing so. The legislation goes to the governor’s desk with a veto-proof majority.

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