Cuba – It’s about time the U.S. buried the proverbial hatchet and started to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. Following the lead of the Obama administration, Congress should tear down trade barriers that penalize American producers and the Cuban people. Hostile diplomacy and trade embargoes generally are not terribly effective, and Cuba is a prime example. It’s time to effect change in Cuba with a different approach.
Changes in relations with Cuba could present a golden opportunity for Kansas wheat producers. Federal lawmakers interested in effective economic strategies need to embrace the potential in a better trade relationship with the island nation.
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Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, should remember whom he represents. He comes to the House of Representatives from one of the greatest wheat-producing areas in the world. His Senate colleague Pat Roberts is ready to work with President Obama to broaden trade with Cuba. His other Senate colleague, Jerry Moran, has been ready for a while to abandon the legislated embargo of trade with Cuba. So what does Pompeo do? He takes the opportunity to lambaste the president for “cozying up with America’s enemies at the expense of our friends and principles.”
Medicaid expansion – The Kansas governor and state legislators are adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid, but other states that initially took the same stand are finding ways to tailor Medicaid programs to meet their individual requirements. If the KanCare program is expanded in 2016, the Kansas Hospital Association estimates, Kansas could receive more than $2.2 billion in federal funds over the next five years – money that would provide care for thousands of Kansas residents, while also supporting the Kansas economy. We urge state lawmakers to give this issue another look.
Immigration – Despite the long-standing immigration problem, Congress has been hard-pressed to pass any meaningful reform for decades. And so, for decades, one president after another has issued executive orders to deal with various aspects of the debate including protecting the country’s economic and security interests as well as trying to stabilize families and communities. One can’t help but wonder whether the current backlash against President Obama has anything to do with the executive action. Perhaps it has more to do with certain factions’ feelings about the president or, worse, the immigrants themselves.
Downtown Topeka – More than 1,000 people work in the Docking State Office Building, which the state plans to vacate and demolish. Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast and John Milburn, spokesman for the state’s Department of Administration, say space for 800 of those employees has been found in the downtown area. The state also is in a holding pattern on the plan to move 200 employees of its motor vehicle division to the former Dillons store near S.W. 29th and Topeka Boulevard. Keeping the state workers downtown is important for many reasons, not the least of which is there is vacant office space in the area that, if occupied, could make a greater contribution to the economic health and vitality of downtown Topeka. Scattering state employees hither and yon makes little sense if space is available downtown at a competitive price.