A state board that advocates on behalf of Kansas consumers fired its lead attorney this week. A Kansas lawmaker says that shows the board needs legislative oversight.
The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, or CURB, advocates for consumers when utility companies request rate increases. After the board considered dissolving itself or changing its mission, Democratic Representative Jim Ward introduced a bill to give lawmakers oversight. Ward says without an attorney there isn’t someone to advocate for utility customers.
“What happens when you don’t have an attorney, you don’t have that advocate in the room when these rate cases come up. You don’t have a person with the skills to fight for the average homeowner,” says Ward.
The board is controlled by appointees of Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The Wichita Eagle reports that the board fired acting Consumer Counsel Niki Christopher at a meeting this week. Board Chair Ellen Janoski said she wasn’t happy with an email Cristopher had sent to the board regarding Ward’s proposal. Janoski said Ward’s bill would strip the board of its power.