Monthly Archives: November 2013

Open thread (Nov. 30)

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Schmidt’s gun opinion confusing

gun3Is concealed-carry welcome at Kansas polling places? Well, it depends. According to an opinion issued Wednesday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whatever the rule in a building the rest of the year will prevail on Election Day, except in the unlikely event that a county rents an entire private building as a polling place. “The use of real property as a polling place does not transform the nature of that property for the purposes of the (Personal and Family Protection Act),” he wrote. But in answering Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s question that way, Schmidt likely has sowed confusion for voters and local election officials. It would be better if Kansas did as Texas and Florida have done, and specifically barred guns at polling places.

Open thread (Nov. 29)

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GOP needs to offer health care alternative, Moran said

morannewSen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., thinks the Affordable Care Act is too flawed to be fixed, but he acknowledges that Republicans haven’t offered alternatives, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. “Many Republicans, including me, decry the terrible consequences of Obamacare,” Moran told the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “But we ought not fail to recognize there are serious and significant problems for many Americans related to the access and affordability of health care.” Moran thinks a better solution would be to invest more in community health clinics that care for the poor and uninsured (which Obamacare does). “That’s a different approach than trying to change, all in one fell swoop, the health care delivery and insurance system,” he said. “In my view we ought to do incremental and commonsense kinds of changes.”

Closing ‘doughnut hole’ saving Kansas seniors millions

drugsMore than 31,000 Kansas seniors and people with disabilities have saved nearly $24 million on their prescription drugs so far this year, for an average of about $750 per beneficiary, according to data released this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Overall, Kansas seniors have saved more than $85 million since the Affordable Care Act was enacted and closed the “doughnut hole” gap in Medicare Part D. Nationwide, the savings is $8.9 billion, according to CMS.

Open thread (Nov. 28)

Thanksgiving

New aviation law is a model for collaboration

pompeo2Congratulations to U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita – and to the general aviation industry – on the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which President Obama signed into law Wednesday. The new law updates and streamlines the certification process for general aviation manufacturers, which should encourage more innovation and improve safety. Pompeo worked closely on the bill with the Federal Aviation Administration, industry officials, labor union representatives and his Democratic colleagues in Congress. This hard work and collaboration are why the bill became law, and a model for how Washington should work.

State government falls short on openness

closed-doorState government needs to open up and let the public watch it work, as evidenced by two events Monday in Topeka. Gov. Sam Brownback held a closed-door meeting with select legislators and educators to talk about school finance (his spokeswoman said “the goal really in all of this was to have people feel as free as possible to have an open discussion”). And the Legislature’s joint oversight committee for home and community based services and KanCare held a Statehouse meeting without taking advantage of the room’s streaming-video capability, which could have provided an online audience statewide. One Capitol insider noted on Twitter, “Ironic that no one at home or in the community can watch a HCBS committee meeting” – and wrong, especially with the Statehouse renovation having just cost more than $300 million.

Polls reflect Washington’s ineptitude

thumbsdownWoven together, new polls showing President Obama with a 39 percent approval and Congress with a 9 percent rating tell the story of Washington’s ongoing ineptitude, wrote columnist Joshua Green. “Americans are fast losing faith in the president, his party and his signature policy achievement,” Green wrote. “But while they’re open to the idea of handing power to the opposition, Republicans are busy demonstrating that they have no idea how to govern.”

Open thread (Nov. 27)

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Tragic fire deaths should be a call for caution

firetruckwichitaIt compounds the shock and tragedy of the mobile-home fire early Tuesday in east Wichita that two of the four fatalities were children. Of the 10 fire deaths so far in 2013 in the city, at least four have been kids. Though the cause of the latest fatal fire is under investigation, the deaths and injuries should serve to remind Wichitans to safeguard their own homes, including by ensuring smoke detectors are operable and chimneys are well-maintained. Other fires this year and last have been linked by investigators to hazards such as spliced, coiled and overloaded power cords; to gasoline vapors ignited by a space heater; and to children playing with a lighter or matches. This week’s four fatalities approach the five deaths for all of 2012 in Wichita, and should call the community to be especially cautious during this holiday period.

Good time to seek and give forgiveness

bbackmug“As we enter the holiday season, a time when families and friends gather to celebrate traditions, I encourage Kansans to consider the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness,” Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement declaring Nov. 24-30 as “a week of reconciliation.” Brownback noted that reaching out to those who have hurt us or whom we have hurt can be difficult, but he said that “forgiveness is a sign of strength” and encouraged all Kansans to “build a bridge of reconciliation.”

Why not build 777X in Wichita?

boeingwichitasignIt’s a long shot that Boeing would build its new 777X in Wichita. If it leaves Washington state, it’s more likely to go somewhere without strong unions. Still, as our Tuesday editorial notes, Wichita has a lot to offer, including the property Boeing is vacating, the skilled workforce and reliable supplier network, and local aerospace assets such as the National Center for Aviation Training and Wichita State University’s National Center for Aviation Research. And as Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst with the Teal Group, told the Seattle Times, choosing a site without airplane manufacturing experience is “just really a bad idea. You are adding multiple layers of risk both in terms of workforce and infrastructure.”

Open thread (Nov. 26)

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City wasn’t expecting state help on airport-name cost

airportnew2House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said last week that if Wichita chooses to rename its new airport after Dwight D. Eisenhower, it shouldn’t count on the state helping pay any of the cost. That’s fine, as the city wasn’t expecting any state help. Cost estimates presented to the City Council included replacing state highway signs. That estimate of about $140,000 is exaggerated, apparently based on the possibility that the highway signs would need to be much larger to accommodate the full, formal name of the new airport – rather than just say “Eisenhower Airport.” Other cost estimates also seem greatly exaggerated, including $375,000 for a monument sign. Similar signs at other airports have cost much less, and the airport likely would want a new monument sign regardless of whether the name changes.

Huelskamp has a new anti-Obamacare gambit

huelskampRep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, has a new long-shot plan of attack on the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico: If another continuing budget resolution is necessary in January, conservatives would include a provision stripping funding for states’ Medicaid expansion and redirecting that money to offset $20 billion in defense cuts scheduled under sequestration. “It helps us achieve two goals at once — one to pull something out of Obamacare…. Two, it pushes back at some Republicans worried about the sequester,” Huelskamp said. He also told Politico that because many GOP governors (including Gov. Sam Brownback) aren’t expanding Medicaid under the ACA, the impact would be felt most in Democratic states.

Open thread (Nov. 25)

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Pompeo isn’t wavering in defense of NSA programs

nsaflag2Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and former Bush and Reagan administration attorney David B. Rivkin Jr. fretted that Edward Snowden’s leaks of National Security Agency documents may deter Congress from passing needed legislation. “It would be lamentable if the entirely legal and invaluable NSA surveillance program became more of a political football than it already is,” they wrote. The commentary pushed back at Capitol Hill criticism of the NSA’s data collection (“Every member of Congress has had access to these programs’ inner workings and the relevant congressional committees have been consistently and fully briefed”), argued it has taken on more importance because “other intelligence collection channels have dried up” and concluded that “doing away with or weakening NSA surveillance programs would eliminate one of the country’s few remaining effective and constitutional tools for keeping Americans safe.”

Poll finds Schodorf little threat to Kobach

kobach2Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo) is strongly positioned to be re-elected next year, judging from a recent SurveyUSA poll. In the survey, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12 in Wichita, 49 percent of the 512 registered voters polled said they favored Kobach. That compares with 33 percent support for Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf, a former Republican state senator from Wichita. It’s early, of course, and 31 percent said they might change their mind. But it’s striking that even after three years of news reports about Kobach’s moonlighting legal work and the registration and voting problems caused by his phony anti-fraud legislation, only 11 percent of those who said they voted for him in 2010 would switch to Schodorf next time.

Open thread (Nov. 24)

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Kansas planemakers can’t afford more shutdowns

beechcraftkingairThis should be reason enough for the Kansas congressional delegation to avoid more government shutdowns: The 16-day impasse in October delayed 156 airplane deliveries worth $1.9 billion, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Whether or not they agreed with the Obama administration’s decision to deem the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Registration office nonessential and lay off employees, the Kansas Republicans in Congress should recognize that the cost of another shutdown would be too great for Kansas’ planemakers and fragile economy.

Moran headed for impressive milestone

morannewSen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is scheduled to hold his 1,000th town hall forum Monday in Marion – the same town where Moran held his first such meeting in 1997. Moran’s dedication to traveling the state and meeting with constituents is impressive and has helped keep him grounded. “Most of what I know is what I’ve learned from conversations with people,” Moran told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “Almost without exception those conversations are beneficial. It affects the way I think about things. It helps me determine what the priorities are.”

So they said

robertspat2“We have weakened this body, permanently undermined it, for the sake of this incompetent administration. What a tragedy.” – Sen. Pat Roberts (in photo), R-Kan., reacting on the Senate floor to the rules change curbing the GOP minority’s filibuster power

“This policy will hasten our economic collapse as a country…. I will not soil myself with this garbage.” – Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau, during his 13-minute speech against allowing any county employees to act as Obamacare “navigators”

“Another day, another ACLU lawsuit.” – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, dismissing the American Civil Liberties Union’s “strange” legal challenge to his proposed dual voter-registration system

“Most people who are complimentary wait until you are walking out the door and then they kind of whisper in your ear, ‘I just want to tell you you are doing a good job.’ People who are more likely to complain and raise concerns are the ones that speak the loudest at town hall meetings.” – Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who will hold his 1,000th town hall Monday in Marion

“Help, I’ve landed and I can’t take off!” “If this isn’t an air force base, then why is it named after a colonel?” – Thursday tweets from the “Jabara Dreamlifter” Twitter account after the massive cargo plane went to the wrong airport

Open thread (Nov. 23)

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Commissioners should respect each other

norton,timSedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton (in photo) should avoid leaving commission meetings early or during debates he finds tiresome. Though it no doubt gets old listening to Commissioner Richard Ranzau drone on and on about United Nations plots to take away our freedoms, Norton should honor his fellow commissioners and constituents by not stepping out of meetings. By the same token, Ranzau and Commissioner Karl Peterjohn should respect other commissioners and county staff and not abuse the “other” time during the meetings. This time is supposed to be for such things as announcements about upcoming events, not for commissioners to grandstand and gripe about national politics. If they want to rant and call people liars, they should do it on their own time.