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Author Archives: Rhonda Holman
March 9, 20146:02 a.m.
Bills to allow medical marijuana continue to go nowhere at the Statehouse. And Attorney General Derek Schmidt and other law-enforcement officials issued a formal warning last week not to bring pot into Kansas from Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal. But the official resistance contrasts sharply with the interest among Kansans that shows up in surveys: 64 percent of the Kansas voters in the recent Public Policy Polling survey said marijuana should be legal for medicinal use, as did 50 percent of Republicans; 42 percent of voters support making it legal for recreational use. A 2013 SurveyUSA poll of Kansas found 70 percent support for legalizing medical pot, which also was endorsed by more than two-thirds of the Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature.
March 9, 20146:00 a.m.
“I think what Gov. Brownback has done with the tax laws and forward-thinking for our state of Kansas and the growth of Kansas in jobs is becoming a model states are looking at throughout the nation. I think he has done it in a very nonpartisan manner.” – Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, in a Daily Caller article headlined “The next tax reform model for the nation to come from Kansas?”
“My experience with Gov. Brownback after having served for seven other governors is that he is the most partisan governor Kansas has ever had.” – Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, in the same article
“You wouldn’t expect this from me. Cheer Liberal today.” – U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, tweeting on Shrove Tuesday, which was pancake race day in Liberal
March 6, 20146:01 a.m.
Governing magazine has shifted Kansas’ 2014 gubernatorial race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” noting Gov. Sam Brownback’s low approval ratings and the “emergence of a plausible contender: state House Minority Leader Paul Davis.” The magazine said: “Despite being a solidly red state, Brownback’s staunchly conservative agenda – and that of Kansas’ even more conservative Republican legislators – hasn’t been universally loved.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post misstated Governing’s change in the race’s status.
March 6, 20146:00 a.m.
Jan Harrison and Phil Thompson of KFXJ, 104.5 FM “the Fox,” deserve credit for the petition drive to rename Wichita’s airport after President Eisenhower as the new terminal opens, which led to Tuesday’s City Council decision. Harrison also spent many hours gathering information and talking to city officials and others about the proposal. But it’s worth recalling that the idea started with a September 2004 column in The Eagle by Mark McCormick headlined, “If Wichita’s airport is renamed, we like Ike.” McCormick, then an Eagle columnist and now the executive director of the Kansas African American Museum in Wichita, was championing a suggestion made to him by reader Luke Yakel, who said he’d thought of it during an earlier visit to the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene. On Wednesday, Yakel told The Eagle editorial board he thought it was a great idea and that the timing was right: “I think in the long run it’s going to really pay off, and it’s going to make Wichita, Kan., stand out. It needs a shot in the arm.”
March 5, 20146:00 a.m.
During a recent White House event to announce advanced manufacturing hubs in Detroit and Chicago, President Obama punctuated a statement about his administration’s efforts to promote 3-D printing and other high-tech advances with this: “These are all ambitious goals, but this is America – that’s what we do, we’re ambitious. We don’t make small planes.” Really? That would be news to a general aviation hub such as Wichita. And it was an unfortunate choice of words for a president who recently signed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.
March 4, 201412:31 p.m.
Congratulations to the Wichita City Council majority for voting to rebrand the airport and properly honor a famous Kansan in connection with next year’s opening of the new $101.5 million terminal. Tuesday’s 5-2 vote approving the name of Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport was an optimistic statement about the city’s future – in sharp contrast to some of the opponents’ negative remarks at the meeting. And there will never be a more cost-effective time to do better than the “Mid-Continent” name – a ’70s castoff from the airport in Kansas City, Mo. – nor is there a Kansan more worthy of such a tribute than the nation’s 34th president.
March 3, 20146:01 a.m.
When CQ Roll Call looked at Sen. Pat Roberts’ 2013 voting record, it found the Kansas Republican voted against President Obama’s wishes 66 percent of the time, a score 6 percentage points higher than the Senate GOP average, and voted the party line 99 percent of the times when most Republicans voted opposite of most Democrats. “After 16 years in the Senate (and as many years before that in the House) cementing a reputation as an establishment Republican, one driven much less by ideology than by a desire for accomplishment, Roberts tacked hard to the right last year,” wrote CQ Roll Call’s David Hawkings.
March 3, 20146:00 a.m.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s poll numbers have made re-election this year his first concern. Yet Grover Norquist (in photo), founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told National Review Online that Brownback would be competitive if he decided to run for president in 2016. “Because he’s done it once, it is credible that he may choose to do it again. He’s thought about it,” Norquist said, praising how Brownback succeeded in replacing nine of 11 moderate Republican state senators in 2012 so he’d have a more like-minded Legislature to support his aggressive economic agenda. Asked about the two surviving moderates, Norquist said: “One, I’m told, is shell-shocked and sits in the corner and doesn’t talk to anybody. And the other sort of came over and rejoined our team.”
March 2, 20146:02 a.m.
Two economic questions on the recent Public Policy Polling survey yielded results that might seem surprising in conservative Kansas: 61 percent said Congress should extend federal unemployment benefits for workers whose state unemployment benefits have ended but who cannot find a job, while 49 percent said they’d support raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. The latter idea came up Thursday on the Kansas House floor, in the form of an amendment for a $10.10 minimum wage offered by Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City, but was rejected on procedural grounds.
March 2, 20146:01 a.m.
Good for actor Seth Rogen for not only going to Capitol Hill to help his chosen cause – more federal funding for research on Alzheimer’s disease – but also shaming senators for variously dozing through, skipping and leaving the hearing, with the notable exceptions of ranking Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas and subcommittee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. By the time Rogen spoke, Moran and Harkin were the only senators on the 18-member panel listening. “Very symbolic of how the government views Alzheimer’s. Seems to be a low priority,” Rogen later told his 1.84 million Twitter followers. Former six-term Kansas congressman Dennis Moore also testified about his own diagnosis in 2011. “Alzheimer’s is creating an enormous strain on the health care system, families and the federal budget,” Moore said. The disease cost Americans $203 billion in 2013, including $142 billion spent by Medicare and Medicaid.
March 2, 20146:00 a.m.
“It’s high time we retire John Boehner.” – U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, at Thursday’s fifth-anniversary party for the tea party (when the applause died down, Huelskamp completed his sentence, saying it is “high time to retire John Boehner’s biggest excuse that we only control one-third of the government”)
“I would like to commend the body on a good first half of the 2014 session.” – House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, after a marathon voting session Thursday
“No time for a debate on Medicaid expansion but 20 minutes for the state fossil.” – Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tweeting as the House approved a bill honoring the tylosaurus and pteranodon
“I think we should retire that number and hang it on a banner from the ceiling, showing how wrong that number can go.” – Rep. Steve Becker, R-Buhler, about the refusal-of-service bill, HB 2453, which he voted against
“If elected I will do my best to keep Kansas off Comedy Central.” – Larry Meeker, Johnson County Democrat running for the Kansas House, on Twitter
March 1, 20146:00 a.m.
At Politico’s recent State Solutions Conference, Gov. Sam Brownback said talking more about poverty and mental health could help the Republican Party among women voters and on social issues. “The answer can’t just be cut food stamps. That’s not the model,” he said. “Two-thirds of our prison population in Kansas has mental health, substance abuse or both problems.”
Feb. 27, 20146:00 a.m.
The Brownback administration’s frustrating decision to bail on the city-owned Finney State Office Building is moving forward, though the lease doesn’t expire until Sept. 30. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will join the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Kansas Department of Labor and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services in the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main while the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Human Rights Commission will go to the Garvey Center – which at least keeps these agencies downtown. Meanwhile, the Kansas Department for Children and Families reportedly wants a 96,000-square-feet site the U.S. Postal Service is closing at 2601 S. Oliver. That means DCF’s more than 550 employees will no longer be working downtown and the agency’s low-income clients will have to adjust to an office that isn’t centrally located or accessible by multiple bus routes. Mayor Carl Brewer lobbied the governor personally to try to save the 20-year city-state partnership by offering a $6 million renovation and a deep discount on rent. He told The Eagle editorial board last week that “we’re disappointed at the fact that they chose not to stay” at the Finney building and said the goal now was to keep it from sitting empty.