Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Et tu, Jerry?

In Kansas Senator Jerry Moran’s world, Washington, D.C., is a constructive, intuitive place where everyone has logical, common goals unfettered by unseemly influence or ulterior motives; a place where divisions between Democrats and Republicans are readily bandaged with a kind word and a solid Howard Cunningham-style pep talk; a place where the sun rises with hope each day and the Cleveland Browns have a chance to win a Super Bowl.

Other Republicans look out upon a national battle map where our representatives are engaged in a cold war between the struggling Democratic Republic and the emerging old-style Socialism being embraced by Democrats. They see they things differently.

For the Kansas Republicans who twice elected Moran to the U.S. Senate and recoiled in disgust last week when the Senator announced he would support a resolution against President Trump’s border wall emergency declaration, the betrayal is one of Shakespearian proportion. Few Republicans view the situation at the nation’s border with Mexico as anything less than an immediate national emergency, either from the standpoint of the human tragedy befalling the illegal immigrants attempting to make the trip through Central America and Mexico, or from the standpoint of a flat-out invasion of undocumented freeloaders into our debt-plagued country.

But Moran’s betrayal of the Trump agenda didn’t just begin here. Moran has spent much time already wringing his hands over this rogue, activist presidency. Moran’s button-down white shirt and red tie institutionalism has squirmed in discomfort as Trump brazenly slugged it out with the Socialist hoards in both houses led by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasional Cortex. Moran can’t understand why we all can’t just get along – why adult legislators can’t act like adults, come to a compromise, and work together. The president and most of the country, however, have given up expecting choruses of kumbaya.

The senator may not remember the president’s efforts at negotiation with House and Senate Democratic leadership over the weeks leading up to and including the December/January government shutdown. Trump wisely capitulated in order to put federal workers back on their jobs and re-fire the colossal engines of federal finance. Then he made fresh offers to advance discussions with Democrat leaders anew – and was flatly refused yet again.

And perhaps Moran hasn’t been watching the agonizing ironies besetting his Democrat colleagues. On one hand they have to keep Trump from gaining a win of any kind that might help in the 2020 election; on the other they have to try to stop the leftward stampede of their party toward bona fide Socialism so as to not alienate legions of centrist voters and stampede them into the Republicans’ welcoming ranks. Pelosi and Schumer are fighting a battle on two fronts, and they're losing.

Just as disappointing was Moran's melba toast manifesto explaining his betrayal. In an 18-point excuse released after the announcement, Moran claimed the 1977 law passed by Congress that allows Presidential Emergency Orders is unconstitutional and should be appealed or amended. He says he supports better border security, (but…). He said there are yet other ways for the president to fund the construction of the wall. He said he’s always been opposed to the overreach of presidential powers even under President Obama. It’s a matter of conscience, and sets the precedent for abuse of power from presidents to come, Moran argues.

Such noble foresight, but one wonders how many illegal immigrants and their children signed contracts in blood with ruthless Coyotes to cross the border while Moran penned his law professor’s lecture response? Or how many criminal illegals sold drugs or staffed the armies of Los Angeles gang bangers? Or how many bought Social Security numbers stolen from native-born American children to establish their bogus identities? Moran's treatise on his own lack of leadership is like debating the virtue of fluoride in public water with the firemen who’ve come to extinguish your blazing house.

The expectation is that Trump will veto the measure, and opponents lack the votes to overturn that veto. If so, the wall may become secondary to Kansas Republicans, who will then assess Moran’s betrayal of trust and whether he has a future as a Kansas Senator.

– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review, a weekly community newspaper in Garnett, Kan., winner of The Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kansas hemp license fees keep state's farmers out of new, lucrative crop

   Although farmers in multiple states will be making money this year on their first legal industrial hemp crop in 80 years, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has set its "research" license and fee structure so exorbitantly high the practical effect will be to keep Kansas farmers out of the industry – again.
   These jacked-up fees – over $1,200 for initial state paperwork before a farmer ever even scuffs his boots in the dirt for a hem[ crop – appear aimed at discouraging Kansans from dipping a toe in the water of what will soon be a thriving option for crop rotations and a potentially lucrative addition to various Kansas agriculture revenue streams. With its fees so high, it's hard to imagine why KDOA wasn't more excited when the Kansas hemp bill was debated two years ago in the legislature. At double the fees other states charge, KDOA should have been able to muster a little better than a "neutral" position on the bill when it was debated by legislators.
   Here's the way this shakedown shakes out: for a crop which has no intoxicant, narcotic or psychoactive potential, the Kansas Department of Agriculture intends to pop each applicant (whether grower, distributor, processor, etc.) a $47 fingerprint fee. Since industrial hemp is no more a threat to your senses than corn, we have to wonder if a fingerprint fee will be required to grow corn next year as well?
   From there we move to a basic application fee – $200 into the KDOA coffers just to fill out the form. This is twice the $100 fee charged by states like Kentucky, which actually want to encourage the crop.
   Now that the state has your fingerprints, your phone number, your social security number and presumably knows where to send your mail, you have to pay an extra $1,000 for the grower's license. Yep, a thousand clams.
   If you want to get into the business end of industrial hemp and operate in Kansas, a distributor license is going to set you back $2,000 before you even buy a single paper clip. If you want to invest in the Kansas economy with your own money for specialized equipment and a facility to become a processor of hemp fiber or grain – that's a cool $3,000 for the privilege of doing it in Kansas. And if you want to process the high-end floral presses that squeeze out that expensive hemp oil – Kansas is going to stick you for $6,000.
   By comparison, Kansas makers of the demon alcohol skate by on the cheap. For a farm winery – up and running lock, stock and barrel for $500; farm winery outlet to sell your own hootch, just an extra $100; want to package and sell your own product from your microbrewery? Check your sofa cushions for a measily $200. Now, nobody's ever gotten intoxicated on industrial hemp because it's like getting intoxicated on alfalfa. And please note: these alcohol license fees, designed to "encourage" wineries and the brewing arts apparently for tourism sake, are for two years, not just one.
   In fairness some, but not many, states have higher license fees associated with their hemp "research" programs than the Sunflower state. Not many, however, are foisting those bureaucratic junk fees on farmers who've been losing money on $3.70 corn and wrestling with soybean prices under $8.50 per bushel in recent years. In Vermont, where they grow mostly sweet corn, potatoes and apples, the license fee last year for a 100 acre industrial hemp plot was $25.
         Considering Kansas' continual low finish in the nation's economic growth rankings, we have to wonder how many times in the past 100 years we've looked squarely at solid opportunities – but been unable to get out of our own way in order to realize them? Unfortunately, industrial hemp may be the next one.        ###

-Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Former KC weather man to speak on wind farms at Thursday meeting in Mound City

MOUND CITY, Kan. –  Former Kansas City Fox 4 weatherman Mike Thompson who now advocates for community groups trying to fight industrial wind farms, will bring the science and politics of massive wind turbine fields to light in a special presentation, Thursday, March 7, at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Mound City.
         The event is hosted by Concerned Citizens of Linn County, Kansas, which is engaged in opposition to a proposed 30,000 acre wind farm near Mound City to be built by the German-based E.ON Corporation. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the 4H Building on the fairgrounds.
         Thompson, a native of Burlington, said his presentation is based off his years of study and a hard look at the scientific irregularities that pervade the wind industry.
         “Basically it’s a fairly comprehensive look at how wind power is very problematic from a number of standpoints,” Thompson said. “What I speak about is the inefficiencies of wind power and how much more our electrical bills are each year as a result of the increasing number of wind farms going up.”
         Thompson was a member of the Kansas City television media for decades and was the meteorologist and on-air weatherman at Fox 4 Kansas City from 1992 until he retired in a contract buy-out last December.
         Thompson said federal subsidies to wind farms had hurt base power plants by driving down the wholesale price of electricity when it floods the grid with unneeded power. That forces rate increases to customers because companies still have to pay for the consistent, base power production we all rely on.
         The event is free and the public is invited to attend. Any schedule changes will be posted at the CCLC’s Facebook page. Contact David Fisher with questions at (913)226-8284.