Noonletter, Oct. 1, 2018 | KCUR

Noonletter, Oct. 1, 2018

Oct 1, 2018

Not quite all in

The Beltway-focused newspaper The Hill is now reporting that the National Republican Congressional Committee has pulled more than $1 million it had planned to spend on U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s re-election.

Yoder isn’t entirely abandoned by the party. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC has been buying heavily in the race to bash Yoder’s Democratic opponent, Sharice Davids.

But the context of the NRCC pause is hard to miss. Sam Zeff notes that it comes as Inside Politics Saturday moved the race to “Tilt Democratic” and other poll-watching pundits have put the Republican seat in their “toss-up” columns. A small-sample poll from The New York Times has put Davids up eight points (although it shows one in four voters has yet to learn anything about her).

Consequences

Kansas foster care contractors will now pay fines and face citations for those times they keep kids in offices overnight.

Gina Meier-Hummel, the chief of the Department for Children and Families, told a child welfare task force last week about the coming fines. Her statement came in the wake of a rape charge filed against one teenager for allegedly sexually assaulting a younger teenager at a KVC Kansas office in Olathe last spring.

The state’s foster care system has been overwhelmed in recent years. And it’s not just the number of kids. Some children arrive with mental health issues or histories of behavior problems. Foster kids dealing with those problems can’t safely be placed just anywhere.

That’s one reason so many have had to spend nights in the offices of contractors — not because there are no foster beds available, but because the specialized slots they need aren’t open.

So threatening new sanctions on contractors who make kids sleep in offices could improve things. But increasing pressure to find them placements could also increase the risk that they land in places ill-equipped to handle their particular needs.

Slow lane

Kansas is ever … so … slowly inching toward moving 2 million driver’s license records off an antiquated computer system. The new system called KanLicense, or KanDrive, is nearly seven years behind schedule. Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports that a new state audit says it could be nearing completion.

Auditors have monitored the project closely over the years because they say the records are so critical. The Department of Revenue controls them but law enforcement needs access at all times, too.

The revenue department wants to avoid a bumpy rollout. That’s what happened to the first part of the project — a vehicle registration platform that launched in 2012 and led to hours-long lines for people trying to update their tags in some counties.

Back in his day ...

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole came to Topeka last week for the dedication of a statue of him at Washburn University. He also weighed in on kids these days, erm, the current state of Washington politics.

Dole said partisans in the capital need to take a breath, scream less and see where Democrats and Republicans might agree on things once in a while.

“We don’t have all the wisdom in our party and they don’t have all the wisdom in their party,” Dole said. “But together, we can work out a pretty good compromise.”

Dole was the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate for a decade before running, and failing, as his party’s nominee for president.

He had his partisan moments, particularly as Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976 and at times in the Senate. But his policy legacies come mostly from those times he worked with Democrats — particularly on food stamps and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mayberry BFD

Forbes magazine — like so many magazines, enthralled at rankings — cites McPherson, Kansas, (mick-FUR-son, not mick-FEAR-son) as a small town that’s got it going on.

The city of about 13,000 has seen its number of industrial jobs ballon 37 percent over the last decade. It’s at the center of the state, and the state’s wind turbine boom.

And, Forbes tells us, it’s doing well with plastics.

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.

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