Daily Archives: April 29, 2013

Obama shows his comedic chops

After he leaves office, President Obama might consider a second career as a comedian. (Yes, I know, many of you already consider him a joke.) He had great timing during the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner last weekend. Among his many jokes: “These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.” “I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. Hello? Think of me as a trial run.” “My charm offensive has helped me learn some interesting things about what’s going on in Congress – it turns out, absolutely nothing.” “We need to make progress on some important issues. Take the sequester. Republicans fell in love with this thing, and now they can’t stop talking about how much they hate it. It’s like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift album.”

Pass gas-storage safety act

Praise is due Sens. Pat Roberts (left) and Jerry Moran (right), R-Kan., for trying again to do something about the 11 natural-gas storage fields in the state that have gone without government inspection since a 2009 court ruling. Like their similar 2011 bill, the latest legislation should be a no-brainer – “allowing states to step in when the federal government fails to monitor natural-gas storage sites,” as Moran said in a statement. Anyone wondering why this matters should check with residents in Hutchinson, the site of a 2001 tragedy in which migrating gas underground caused explosions that killed one couple and destroyed a block of downtown businesses. The longer Congress waits to respond to the federal government’s inaction and to restore the state’s authority to regulate interstate gas storage, the greater the risk of more explosions.

Phantom turnpike savings could save the day?

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ty Masterson, R-Andover, has a novel way to help prevent budget cuts to higher education: Use the $15 million to $30 million in savings resulting from the merger of the Kansas Turnpike Authority with the Kansas Department of Transportation. “I would be willing to use (those savings) to keep higher ed where it was at in the governor’s proposal,” Masterson said. The problem is that the savings are a made-up number. The Brownback administration was never able to explain how a merger would save that much money. Also, lawmakers were so concerned that the merger could degrade the turnpike that they only partially merged the agencies, and they made clear that turnpike fees could not be spent on other roadways.