- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Lawmakers said Thursday they have asked the Kansas attorney general to analyze agreements state officials reached on the planned implosion of a state office building and construction of a new Capitol Complex energy plant.

The $20 million deal reached in December by the Kansas Department of Administration has been subject to scrutiny because the contract for private financing and a contract with a construction firm weren’t vetted by the Legislature, The Topeka Capital Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1Tfoxya).

Sen. Kay Wolf, chair of the joint building committee, said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office had been contacted to examine termination clauses in the contracts and to offer thoughts on whether the Legislature needed legal representation. Wolf, a Republican, said consideration should also be given to an alternative proposal proposed by Rep. Mark Hutton that would require the Department of Administration to abandon its plan.

“I would not like to take any action until we have heard from the attorney general’s office,” Wolf said.

Sarah Shipman, acting secretary of the Department of Administration, said delaying the project could cost the state about $10,000 each day. She also said the tentative estimate for severing the financing agreement could compel the state to pay $400,000 in penalties. Cancelling the utility construction contract could also force the state to pay $2 million for expenses incurred and profit guaranteed to the construction company, she said.

Shipman also challenged legislators’ statements that the agency exceeded its authority by signing the contracts to move forward with the energy plant and remove the Docking State Office Building. She said miscommunication between legislators on the building committee and agency officials preceded signing of the contracts in December.

“We acted with statutory authority,” Shipman said. “We believe we fulfilled our responsibilities.”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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