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Recent Kansas Editorials

April 9, 2019

The Manhattan Mercury, April 4.

Expansion would benefit many Kansans for relatively little money

We understand some of the reasons that Kansas Republicans are skittish about Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposed expansion of KanCare, the state’s version of Medicaid. But we believe that overall the expansion would be a good thing for Kansas.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid health insurance coverage to low-income families whose income is up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government covers 90 percent of medical costs.

That would mean as many as 150,000 additional children and adults would have health coverage.

The House already passed a plan for expansion. The Senate, meanwhile, refuses to vote on the bill.

Yes, the expansion would cost the state money: the plan passed by the House is expected to have a $30 million effect on the state budget.

A later amendment, though, proposed a $25 monthly fee for those who sign up, providing a revenue stream that some lawmakers said could fully offset the state’s cost.

But the thing is, Kansas residents already are paying for Medicaid expansion — for other states, really — through our taxes.

Billions of tax dollars are going to the federal government, and we’re not getting any services in exchange. Even for those who were against the national expansion of Medicaid, now that it has happened, why shouldn’t Kansans reap some of the benefits?

Importantly, the expansion also would be good for hospitals in the state. For Manhattan’s Via Christi, Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers said Wednesday that an expansion would mean about $2.3 million in revenue. For rural hospitals, that money is even more important, because it’s a higher percentage of their budget.

We don’t want the Legislature to approve anything that will worsen the state’s budget or create a need to raise taxes. But this measure provides a lot of benefits for relatively low cost. The Senate should at least put it to a vote.

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The Lawrence Journal-World, April 3

Baby killers, blood on your hands, and other political ploys

For awhile it looked like we would need crime scene tape at the Statehouse. After all, there was all this talk of baby murderers and blood on people’s hands. Come to find out, though, there was no need for a 911 call. It was just an outbreak of politics.

First was a confirmation hearing for David Toland, Gov. Laura Kelly’s nominee to lead the Kansas Department of Commerce. Such a hearing, of course, sparked a debate on abortion.

Somehow, the decision on whom to appoint as the Secretary of Commerce became heavily influenced by Kansans for Life, who criticized Toland because the economic development group he led in Iola had taken grant money from a fund honoring the late George Tiller, who ran a Wichita abortion clinic. The grant money had nothing to do with abortion, but that is beside the point. Tiller is characterized as a baby murderer, so any money that comes close to his name must be blood money. Somehow, Tiller is never characterized as a homicide victim, even though he was shot to death while attending church.

Come on, people. Yes, abortion is a divisive issue and creates many difficult questions. But if a group wants to honor the memory of a man who was killed in cold blood, just turn the other cheek, even if you don’t agree with what he stood for. Surely it is not that hard for politicians to do. Many of them have a policy that they’ll accept campaign contributions from anybody who can fog a mirror and make an ‘X’ on the signature line of a check. Yes, that may be harsh, but it would be rare to find a politician who has accepted money only from people he or she agrees completely with.

It is fine if you want to be a legislator who opposes abortion and you act on your convictions, but when you so blatantly try to wedge the issue into a matter that has nothing to do with the subject, it comes off sounding phony. It takes a serious subject and turns it into a cheap political prop.

Thankfully, enough of the Kansas Senate agreed this wasn’t the venue to decide the abortion issue and approved Toland’s nomination, overriding a Senate committee’s recommendation for denial.

Next was a protest about the state’s inaction to expand Medicaid. It featured a trio of large banners that were unfurled from the rotunda proclaiming that certain Republican legislators had “blood on their hands” for not allowing a Medicaid expansion plan to advance.

No, they really don’t. Even if you think Medicaid expansion is a good idea, you can’t really think that people who oppose it are responsible for the deaths of people who didn’t receive health care due to a lack of insurance. If that is the accepted logic, then there is a long list of killers: the hospital that wouldn’t provide the care for free, the church and philanthropic organizations that didn’t fund the care, and so on and so forth.

The people who oppose Medicaid expansion have policy and philosophical objections to the idea, many of them fiscally based. They think it will end up costing the state a tremendous amount of money, which they believe may create hardships and suffering for other Kansas residents.

Medicaid supporters should continue to push for expansion. It will make the lives of Kansans better, and it seems that a majority of the state agrees. Keep pushing, but hurtful hyperbole won’t be a winning strategy.

Instead, a winning strategy probably will involve some sort of compromise. There used to be an old political saying that a half-loaf is better than no loaf at all. Politicians used to eat half-loaves. Now, too many, are content to gorge themselves on a buffet of hyperbole and vitriol.

Maybe the Statehouse doesn’t need to be wrapped in crime scene tape. Instead, a heavy log chain may be a better wrapping. Keep it locked until everybody learns to play nicer and compromise more.

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The Kansas City Star, April 3

Trump’s attacks on wind energy are just a lot of hot air in Kansas

See how wind turbines capture and convert wind energy to generate clean electricity. BY MCCLATCHY

President Donald Trump continued his tiresome and inaccurate attack on wind power during a speech this week to fellow Republicans.

“If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value,” he said. “And they say the noise causes cancer.”

As usual, it isn’t clear where the president got his information. Windmill noise doesn’t cause cancer, and a 2013 review of the evidence showed wind turbines cause only minor ripples in home values.

But the president’s views will come as a surprise — and a severe disappointment — in Kansas, where wind is an essential component of the state’s energy system.

In 2018, Kansas ranked among the top five states in energy produced by wind. Kansas gets 36 percent of its electric energy from wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest share in the nation.

In 2017, wind energy powered the equivalent of 1,719,000 homes in Kansas. The industry provided more than 4,000 jobs. Lease payments to Kansas farmers, according to one estimate, may reach $20 million a year — a real benefit for farmers struggling when the economy is down.

Then there are the advantages for the rest of us. In 2017, according to the American Wind Energy Association, almost 8 million metric tons of carbon monoxide were not ejected into the sky because of all the wind energy produced in the state. Kansas saved more than 4 billion gallons of water, too.

Wind energy in Kansas is safer, and an important economic development tool. To be fair, wind-generated energy is slightly more expensive to consumers, for now, because of additional construction costs. Eventually, though, that expense should drop.

Trump’s attack on renewable wind energy makes no sense. His reliance on unsubstantiated facts could damage an important industry in the state, while making the skies more polluted and water less available.

Come to Kansas, Mr. President. The Flint Hills are pretty in the spring, and nearby farms are dotted with wind turbines efficiently powering homes and businesses. The windmills won’t give you cancer, either.