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Noonletter, Oct. 5, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

The price of compliments

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts isn’t even running for re-election this year. And he’s from Kansas. Yet he’s become a talking point in one of the most pivotal contests in this mid-term election year.

It seems that Roberts once said the following: “If you want to pick somebody to work in a bipartisan manner and get something done … you ask Claire McCaskill because she does get the job done.”

McCaskill is a Democrat, running for re-election in Republican-dominated Missouri. So those words, from that guy, are campaign gold.

McCaskill uses a photograph of her and Roberts sitting in a committee meeting and uses the Kansan’s quote.

But during this election season, in this polarized version of America, Roberts isn’t feeling the love. So much for Midwest nice.

“I’m very disappointed that she’s sided with her party’s leadership,” he said this week, “and opposed the Trump administration.”


Law professors across the country have been signing onto a letter urging the U.S. Senate not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The list includes more than a dozen law professors in Kansas, including from the University of Kansas and Washburn University.

In the letter, the professors argue Kavanaugh hasn’t shown the impartiality and judicial temperament expected of someone bound for the high court.

Silver-haired skunky stuff

The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature is telling the actual Kansas Legislature to clear the way for medical cannabis.

In its advocacy for the elderly, the group contends that medical weed could help cancer patients and that people made achy by arthritis ought to have the option of trying marijuana.

“They shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re a criminal,” the group's president, Jay Rowh, told our Stephen Koranda, “because they’re trying to help themselves not have so much pain.”

But medical pot should not be a workaround for people looking to fire up recreationally, the group says.

On another matter, the Silver Haired Legislature also wants to ditch the state’s sales tax on food and swap in a tax on internet sales to make up the difference.

Sales taxes on food have long been criticized because they ding poor people on essentials, and the less money you have, the larger proportion of it gets spent on food. But replacing that revenue was tough until recent court rulings cleared the way for states to tax internet purchases.

Speaking of tax bucks

After years of lousy revenue numbers, the tide has turned. (Or a strong economy is showing how rising tides lift all boats. Pick your own lunar/ocean metaphor.)

The state pulled in $173 million more in taxes in the first quarter of the current fiscal year than it did the year before. That’s a jump of more than 11 percent, and a total haul of more than $1.5 billion.

Can probably score KU hoops tickets

A year ago, former state lawmaker Mark Hutton was running for the Republican nomination for governor. His candidacy never caught fire and he pulled out of the race in the spring. Gov. Jeff Colyer stayed in the race and ultimately lost a tight primary to Kris Kobach.

Now Colyer has named Hutton to the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s flagship public universities. The job doesn’t pay much — a little over $2,000 a year— but it’s a spot of influence, prestige and access to big college events.

Colyer also nominated current regents Bill Feuerborn and Allen Schmidt, both former legislators, to repeat terms that would run through 2022. The state Senate needs to confirm those choices. It usually does.

POTUS in the locus

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. 

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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